What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pasta with Broccoli

The first thing you should note about this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is that I didn’t write “Orecchiette con Broccoli/Cime di Rapa.” Why is that important?

Because all those fancy Italian words would mean that we’re making a traditional dish from Puglia, Italy’s heel. As it is, what I offer below diverges greatly from that recipe — go to Judith in Umbria for the real deal, the one with anchovies. Yum!

And to see orecchiette (pasta shaped like little ears), head over to Michellanea.

On the bright side, no matter how you make it, it’s yet another fast, easy, and tasty dish, and you know how much we like those around here.

Fun Italian fact before we get to the good stuff? Broccoli is an Italian word, so here’s at least one thing you can order when you come even if you don’t speak the language.

Pasta with Broccoli

Pasta with broccoli

Bunch of broccoli, about 8 oz. worth, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-3 peperoncini depending on your tastes, chopped
Salt to taste

Short pasta of your choice, such as penne shown above

Pecorino Romano to garnish (optional)

1. First clean the broccoli and put it in a pot of salted boiling water. Let it cook for about 8 minutes so that it’s still a bit crunchy. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside. Don’t discard the water.In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. After you’ve removed the broccoli, bring water back to a boil and then add pasta.

3. Now you can start the sauce by heating olive oil over medium heat and then adding garlic. Fry it for a few minutes, let it brown but (unlike Usher) don’t let it burn. Then add peperoncini and let fry for another minute or so.

4. By this time your pasta should be almost done, so you can add the broccoli to the pan and mix well with the other ingredients. Also add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Remember you don’t want the broccoli to cook too much more; it doesn’t need to be in there long.

5. When the pasta is al dente, drain and toss with sauce, taking out the garlic first if you like. I usually do because neither of us likes to eat the cloves.

6. Serve hot and garnish with grated Pecorino Romano cheese (and extra peperoncino if you can handle it!) at the table.

Buon appetito!

30 day of thanks
Today I’m thankful for:

Seasonal eating and the awesome, fresh, organic produce that I can get from our own garden, from my neighbors, from P’s family, and from our markets. I eat so much healthier here than I ever did in the States, and a big part of that is just how good, available, and affordable the produce is here.

And I love that there’s a time of year for everything and that’s when we eat it. I was just complaining to Amanda at Figs, Olives, Wine the other day that we hadn’t gotten any good broccoli yet, and then it appeared at the market the next morning.

You see, I’m craving it because late fall/early winter is when we can have it–the only time we can have it. So now we’ll eat it for a good month, two months maybe, get sick of it and quickly become enamored with a newly in-season vegetable or type of bean or whatever.

It’s amazing how easily your body falls into a natural eating rhythm when it’s not inundated with choices, and I think this is a good thing. I know that I appreciate broccoli, for instance, so much more because I can’t have it all the time.

And for all of these things, I am thankful.

50 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pasta with Broccoli”
  1. Jeff Gromen

    Excellent. This is a dish I can make and without writting everything down. But only in secrecy of my own kitchen as it goes against the “norms”. I was trying to think the other day what other type of pasta goes with broccoli. Like you said, the people around here will only say orecchiette.


  2. sognatrice

    Jeff, yes please do keep this in your kitchen, and don’t tell anyone where you got it from either πŸ˜‰

  3. Roam2Rome

    …that’s one thing I definitely miss! Fresh organic food that’s more affordable, too!

    Like Jeff said, the recipe is great because it’s easy to remember, and I find elegance in simplicity.

    With rich flavorful natural ingredients, what more do we need?

  4. sognatrice

    Roamer, look at that–the two birthday celebrators are the first two comments πŸ™‚

    Almost everything we make around here is easy to remember–we don’t have a lot of choice on ingredients (unless I get things shipped in), so that definitely helps πŸ˜‰

  5. Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah)

    Yum. Reminds me a bit of my own pasta with broccoli recipe – I like to add some sun-dried tomatoes which seems to give all the other flavours a bit of a lift. Another alternative is some bacon with the broccoli though one has to watch salt content.

  6. My Melange

    I prefer your version, especially since if I am having pasta….it must have freshly grated cheese on top;)

  7. Giulia

    I make this dish often. Sometimes I even add a bit of sausage to it. I have never made it with orecchiette, only penne or spaghetti! I usually grate Grana Padana or Parmigiano Reggiano on it because I find Pecorino Romano to be too salty. It’s definitely one of those dishes that can be made many ways.

  8. sognatrice

    AV & A, yum–very nice additions you’ve mentioned πŸ™‚

    Robin, I love my cheese too!

    Giulia, truth be told, that’s actually Grana in the photo. I love Pecorino on anything, though, so that’s what I’d use if I had it. Funny because normally I don’t like salty things, but Pecorino is a big exception that rule for me. LOVE it πŸ™‚

  9. qualcosa di bello

    i’ll add to my list of gratitude today…your pasta recipe, so seasonal, so easy, so delish!

    so on the menu very soon!

  10. somepinkflowers

    i am thankful for your
    *what’s cooking wednesday*
    i have been collecting
    your yummy ideas
    for sometime now
    you have never steered me wrong,
    not once!


    i don’t care WHAT you call it,
    if it tastes good,
    i will eat it and want MORE.

    i was just drawn that way…

  11. Vanessa

    You always present your dishes so beautifully! My husband (the cook in our house who’s big into presentation) would like you πŸ™‚

    Say hi to the puppies!

  12. Rebecca

    Well that decides “what’s for dinner” as soon as I’m feeling a bit better!!! Yum

  13. Stefanie

    The Italians get so much RIGHT that I really don’t want to criticize, but… cheese is a no-no?? I don’t care if that statement IS dish-specific; it’s still just wrong!! πŸ˜‰

  14. Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy

    Cime di rapa are actually turnip heads (or broccoli rabe) – much more bitter than actual broccoli. But I prefer your version – I love broccoli! πŸ™‚

  15. sognatrice

    *Qualcosa, why that’s quite a compliment πŸ™‚

    *SPF, so happy to hear it! And I agree–the name doesn’t matter so long as it’s good! If it keeps you wanting more all the better πŸ˜‰

    *Vanessa, usually the plates fall as they may and I snap photos, but this time I’ll admit to a little broccoli positioning. P spooned it out and some stray pieces fell off to the side of the dish. I rescued them, plopped them on top, and there’s the photo. Lighting could be better, but we tend to make these kinds of things in the evening, so no natural light unfortunately πŸ™

    *Rebecca, sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling well. Yes, I’d hold off on the broccoli then πŸ˜‰

    *Stefanie, they’re weird about the cheese thing–it’s not allowed on seafood either (I know you don’t each much of that, but I’m just trying to make a point here). Anyway, I do happen to agree on the seafood/cheese no-no for the most part, although on seafood risotto, I think it’s lovely πŸ™‚

    *Sara, yes, I guess I could’ve explained the cime di rapa thing better, but I’ve never even seen them here anyway (or had a desire to find them), so I didn’t think anyone would be dying to know more about them. I threw that in there more for those already in the know on this dish, so they didn’t think I was pawning this off as that one.

    I’ve seen a debate also including “broccoletti” and what they translate as well. I just didn’t have the energy.

    In any event, I’ve never had the turnip heads, but I imagine I would like broccoli better too…broccoli lover here as well, even though I didn’t like it until I was in my late teens.

  16. Sara

    “orecchiette (pasta shaped like little ears)”

    Yeah, like little puppy ears.

    I adore pasta with broccoli, and now I know what I am having for lunch. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  17. Tui

    Thank goodness it’s nearly lunchtime up here, ‘cuz that looks yummy!

  18. Minnie

    Too Funny. I was planning on making broccoli and pasta tomorrow. My family usually does it with rigitoni. Now my mouth is watering.

  19. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    Broccoli is one of my favorite veggies yet I have never made it with pasta. Now I have a new recipe to try out. Grazie mille

  20. Miss Eliza

    My gandpa Manzo always makes this – just exactly like you do. Who knew? I always thought he’d made it up as a way to use leftover broccoli. πŸ™‚

  21. sognatrice

    *Sara, good to know I’m not the only one who is a bit obsessed, er, focused on puppydom πŸ˜‰

    *Tui, lunchtime, sheesh! What time do you eat dinner?!

    *Minnie, rigatoni works too–in fact I bought rigatoni and penne and let P choose this time (since he was making it and all) πŸ˜‰

    *NYC, you’ll love this. So easy and fast!

    *Miss Eliza, yeah, well there’s definitely *that* aspect to the dish as well πŸ˜‰

  22. cheeky

    I just bought a big bunch of broccoli yesterday. Now i have a recipe to make it with. Yummy.
    It is wonderful that you do eat what’s in season. It is the way it’s suppose to be. Eating well and proper does = good health.
    I’m loving your 30 days of thanks.

  23. flutter

    can I please come live with you?

  24. sognatrice

    *Cheeky, what great timing! Great minds think alike πŸ™‚

    *Flutter, hmm, how much do you eat? πŸ˜‰

  25. Jen of A2eatwrite

    This looks wonderful – and it’s market day and we DO have broccoli – guess I’m heading over there on the way to pick up DS from school.

  26. Miss Mrs...a blog of everyday delights

    Gosh, that looks delicious!!!!!

  27. Karina

    Probably a bad idea for me to come check out “What’s Cooking Wednesday” before I’ve had lunch and knowing that all I have for lunch is a lousy Lean Cuisine frozen pizza…sigh…

    Oh well, I’ll just look at the picture of the meal P made, and pretend that’s what I’m eating! haha

    Looks delish.

  28. Judith in YUMMMMbria

    Ha! I had it for lunch today, but my Bari version with the anchovies. You know, you can’t tell they’re in there, because they dissolve and just make the flavor better. It’s also one of only two recipes I have in which the garlic is browned.

    I always thought the no cheese thing was because of the anchovy. Can’t see a reason for no cheese in your version.

    Happy birthday to all of you sexy Scorpios.

  29. sognatrice

    *Jen, woohoo! Market day!

    *Miss Mrs, and vegetarian too πŸ™‚

    *Karina, don’t worry, I definitely ate your share as well. And probably the share of at least another person.

    *Judith, *I* trust the original recipe with the anchovies; my darling Calabrian, however, doesn’t trust anything from Puglia πŸ˜‰

    I exaggerate, although not by much….

  30. heartinsanfrancisco

    I love broccoli. Pasta, too.

    I am a vegetarian so of course, fresh produce is very important to me. And your recipe sounds delicious!

  31. Eryn

    ooo this looks yummy!!!

    p.s. i’ve made your pasta e cecci soup twice now. alex and i LOVE it. I’m having it for dinner again tonight (we have tons of leftovers!!!)

  32. Judith in YUMMMMbria

    I want to try that Sicilian one! Interesting, plus maybe it will make me a girl Montalbano. With hair.

  33. Italiana Americana

    That’s hilarious! Today I cooked pasta and broccoli seperately for lunch and pulled out the pecorino romano cheese, I said there has to be some way to combine the 2! But i ate them seperately crazy! πŸ™‚

  34. sognatrice

    *Heart, how lovely to see you here; glad you like the looks of this one πŸ™‚

    *Eryn, I’m so happy to hear about the soup! Thanks for coming back to let me know–from the recipe I posted, we usually have at least one bowl leftover too…great for me for lunch the next day πŸ™‚

    *Judith, yes, hair would be pretty important on a girl Montalbano. And anyway, speaking of delicious….

    *Italiana, that is pretty funny–what a coincidence! See I was trying to send you the message telepathically, but I guess it got a bit confuzzled in transmission πŸ˜‰

  35. witnessing am i

    Every Wednesday I visit here and every Wednesday I wish there existed Scratch n’Sniff monitors. How glorious that would be.

    Then again, I probably don’t need it, especially after this morning. Let me just say that it is very embarassing to be caught licking and nibbling on one’s monitor, especially here at work.

  36. anno

    Yum! Thanks to you, Wednesday night dinners are rapidly becoming my family’s favorite! This sounds like a sneaky way to make something both healthy and delicious!

  37. Delina

    This is one of my favourite winter dihses. There’s some lovely looking fresh broccoli around now too. Must make this soon.

  38. Bobbie in Alaska


    I have recently discovered your blog through a favorite of mine. I am really enjoying reading and learning about life in Italy. I appreciate your “what’s cooking wednesday” as I am always looking for new ideas for dinner.

    Take care!

  39. Jeni

    I dunno there – broccoli is by far and away my most favorite of vegetables and I am really, REALLY thankful that I can get frozen broccoli and keep it on hand -or go to the store and get fresh broccoli now and again (when the price isn’t sky-high, ya know.) The recipe though sounds like one I can fix here easily and keep the little four-year-old happy and maybe even get a touch of vegetable into her in the process. (She loves pasta anything -so do I – wonder where she got THAT gene, huh?)

  40. BipolarLawyerCook

    Now that I try to avoid wheat gluten, I will serve a version of this (with 5 cloves of garlic, slow cooked in evoo on low (“confit”, freezes well), chopped, instead of fresh garlic, and red pepper flakes over polenta liberally seasoned with cheese, butter, and black pepper. Or we use the broccoli as a bed for a fried egg or two on really lazy nights.

  41. Lisa Milton

    Looks heavenly. And the fresh produce sounds so wonderful – again, you make Italy sound so inviting.

  42. Geggie

    I am so craving all things “fall” — pumpkin, squash, etc. Can’t wait for butternut squash raviloi and brown butter & sage.

  43. Gil

    Sounds good. I would like the anchovies but my wife doesn’t like them and doesn’t use them.

  44. sognatrice

    *Witness, I hope you cleaned your monitor before licking and nibbling!

    *Anno, it is indeed.

    *Delina, we just got in our first really good broccoli of the season; we’ve already had this dish twice.

    *Bobbie, welcome! I’m so glad you found me, and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy your tour of the place!

    *Jeni, if the 4-year-old will eat broccoli, you’ve really got a keeper there–it too me another 10 to 15 years to appreciate it!

    *BLC, mmm, over polenta sounds lovely. I’ve never thought of the fried egg thing. We usually use onions as our bed, but the broccoli is an interesting twist.

    *Lisa, well the fresh produce is certainly one aspect of Italy that’s inviting; there are quite a few that aren’t so inviting, but we’ll save those for another time πŸ˜‰

    *Geggie, fall is definitely one of my favorite eating seasons too, although I love fruit, so summer really works well for me as well πŸ™‚

    *Gil, you should tell her that Judith says you can’t taste them at all–and she should know to trust Judith!

  45. Judith in YUMbria

    Yanno, Gil could like lock himself in the kitchen and make them and NOT TELL!

  46. sognatrice

    Excellent point Judith. Just one question–can we trust Gil with a stove?

  47. Italianissima

    Ummm, looks buono! You’ve been tagged! Go to my blog and read the directions to continue the game…or don’t go…la scelta e tua! πŸ™‚

  48. sognatrice

    Italianissima, I’m on my way πŸ˜‰

  49. 09.21.2011

    Fantastic! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe very soon.

    michelle Reply:




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