This one-pot pasta was inspired by my time spent in Puglia, Italy. All of the pasta we ate (and we ate a lot of it!) was so incredibly simple, highlighting the quality of their local ingredients and letting them shine. This is my own version of a common pasta dish called Orechiette cime di rape (orechiette with broccoli rabe), which I learned how to make with a local while I was there. Since broccoli rabe is hard to find, I used good old frozen broccoli. It gets cooked with the pasta and creates a light broccoli sauce with hints of garlic and black pepper. Cheese is optional, but recommended. If you have a high quality olive oil, be sure to drizzle it over top!
Broccoli! This mighty cruciferous veggie is packed full of nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, fiber, iron and calcium. It’s also loaded with antioxidant compounds like sulforaphane, kaempferol, and quercetin. Plus, it’s large tree-like flowery heads absorb sauces extremely well, making it one of my favorite veggies for things like stir-fry’s and anything with a sauce or dressing!
- 1 lb bag frozen broccoli florets (about 5 cups)*
- 12 oz orzo or orecchiette**
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed or chopped***
- 1 tsp black pepper (optional or reduce if you don’t like that peppery kick)
- 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- *If you have fresh broccoli, use 6 cups of florets in place of frozen.
- **Orechiette is my favorite for this recipe, but the kind you find at the grocery store is usually not very good and doesn’t tend to cook very evenly in my experience. If you do use orecchiette, be sure to stir it pretty often so they don’t stick together.
- ***In Italy we learned that when cooking a meal for people, it’s polite to leave the garlic intact (smashed) so you can remove it at the end. That way guests don’t have to worry about bad breath! Also, the more you chop it, the stronger the garlic flavor. If you don’t care, go ahead and chop it up.
- Fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and about 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add broccoli to the boiled water, bring it back up to a boil, then cook for 4 minutes. Add in your pasta and cook according to the package instructions, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the pot. Reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water, then drain your pasta/broccoli.
- Wipe out the skillet until dry. Return the pot over medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring often, until fragrant.
- Add the drained pasta/broccoli into the pan along with 1 cup pasta water and cheese (if using). If not using cheese, add an additional ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for about 1-2 more minutes, stirring constantly, or until the liquid reduces and forms more of a glossy sauce. Taste and add more salt, if needed. This depends a lot on how salty your pasta water was and whether or not you added cheese!
- Serve topped with black pepper and a drizzle of your best olive oil. If using cheese, sprinkle some more on top if you have it.
Items you can prep ahead (optional)
- Chop 2 cloves garlic
- Grate 1 cup parmesan or pecorino (if using)
- To make vegan, skip the parm. Be sure to add salt, to taste. Top with the Pumpkin Seed Parm from week 53!
- To make gluten free, use a gluten-free pasta substitute. Jovial Foods is my favorite.
- If you have fresh broccoli, use 6 cups of florets in place of frozen.
- Spice it up by adding red pepper flakes in with the garlic.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Leftovers + Repurposing:
- Warm it up in the microwave until warmed through. Stirring in a splash of water can help loosen it up. Top with plenty of cheese, good olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Top with a fried egg!