Pasta with broccoli is easy weeknight recipe that is a big hit in our house. I would probably call it a side dish, but I’ve definitely served it as a meatless main dish with some other supporting sides.
My recipe is a dairy free adaptation of Giada De Laurentiis’ Farfalle with Broccoli. The recipe I make is not much different from Giada’s, just removing some dairy and keeping it extra kid friendly. The original recipe was finished with parmesan cheese, which is easy to leave out. You can add a little salt if you think your pasta needs it. I also use more olive oil in place of the butter. The last change I often make is to omit the red pepper flakes when my kids are eating it. Somehow the kids seem to find all the red pepper flakes. The pasta is really tasty with the red pepper flake, adding a very subtle heat, so if your kids can handle the spice, give it a try.
When you read the recipe, please don’t recoil in terror when you see the anchovy paste. I dislike anchovies myself and couldn’t imagine how such an ingredient could be good until I tried this recipe. The anchovy adds saltiness and depth of flavor. It really makes a difference. I promise you though that your kids won’t take a bite and say, “Yuck. This is Fishy!” It is barely there, similar to anchovy in a great caesar dressing. I buy the paste instead of the fish in tins so I don’t have to waste any leftovers. The internet consensus is that 1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste is equal to 1 anchovy fillet but check the box your tube of paste comes in. It will often tell you the conversion based on the potency of the paste.
Giada’s recipe is for farfalle, which is bow tie pasta. Barilla brand pasta now makes mini bow ties which are great for little fingers and mouths. If you don’t have bow ties or your kids like something else, pick another pasta shape! Just make a note of the cooking time on the box and subtract four minutes. At the end of the shortened cooking time, add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook another 4 minutes so your broccoli and pasta will be done perfectly at the same time. The times in my recipe are for regular size farfalle.
Lastly this may seem like a lot of olive oil, but this is basically an olive oil sauce. The 1/2 cup of oil is for the full pound of pasta so don’t skimp!
Pasta with Broccoli
1 pound farfalle (bow tie pasta)
2 heads broccoli (Equal to about 4 cups broccoli florets)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves chopped (I often use the equivalent in jarred chopped garlic in olive oil to save time)
5 anchovy fillets diced or 2 1/2 teaspoons of anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Start boiling a large pot of water. While waiting for it to come to a boil, chop the broccoli into medium-sized florets (so they will be bite sized after cooking). Lightly salt the pasta water and then add the pasta. Stir gently. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes and then add the broccoli. Cook for another 4 minutes. Check the broccoli and pasta and if it done to your liking, remove one cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and broccoli.
Meanwhile, start the sauce in a large skillet. Heat the olive oil and add the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flake. Cook for one minute. Add the broccoli and the pasta. Stir to combine and season with the salt and pepper, adding more if needed. If pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Enjoy!