Quick broccoli pasta dish

Life has been getting a little hectic recently and believe it or not, I have been struggling to find time to cook myself a decent home-cooked meal. My career is in food, so I’m surrounded by it daily, but it’s not the same when you cook something that you love that you can enjoy curled up on the sofa.

It’s times like these that I like to look at my recipe back catalogue and cook dishes that I’ve grown to love over the years. Therefore, I present to you a QUICK BROCCOLI PASTA dish that is inspired by my many trips to Puglia, southern Italy. Orecchiette pasta (little ears) is usually served coated in ‘cima di rapa’, (turnips tops) which is cooked in olive oil, garlic, chilli and anchovies. I do pride myself on not being an anal purist when it comes to Italian cooking and always like to look at the British alternatives. It’s all about creating recipes that people are comfortable cooking, no matter their background. To put in perspective, it cost me only 65p to buy a broccoli head and the rest of the ingredients were in my cupboard.

So if you ever feel, time is not on your side, don’t forget to take care of yourself and cook this quick broccoli pasta dish to bring you goodness and joy. If you like to add meat to your meal, why not fry and render some bacon lardons or pancetta with your garlic and chill before you add back your broccoli. They bring a lovely saltiness to the dish. Or you can create the saltiness effect by sprinkling generous spoonfuls of grated parmesan or pecorino on top. No matter how you decide to cook this recipe, you can’t lose. Pour yourself a glass of wine and you’re set.

quick broccoli pasta

Quick broccoli pasta (2-3 people)

  • 1 broccoli head, cut into florets

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • Chilli flakes

  • 2 anchovy fillets

  • 300g pasta (penne or orecchiette)

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Sea salt

  • Ground black pepper

  • Parmesan, grated (optional)


  • In a large sauce, bring to the boil salted water. Drop in the broccoli florets and cook for 5-8 minutes until they have softened.
  • When the broccoli has cooked, remove from the water with a slotted spoon. Ensure you reserve the cooking water as you will need it later to cook the pasta in.
  • In a frying pan, drizzle generously some olive oil. Add the garlic and cook on a low heat until softened. Then sprinkle some chilli flakes (to your taste) and the anchovy fillets. Stir all together with a wooden spoon and cook until the anchovies have melted away into the oil.
  • At the point, add back in the cooked broccoli. Give it a good stir until it is coated in the flavoured olive oil. Cover with a lid and cook for another 10-12 minutes.
  • In the meantime, bring the broccoli water back to a boil. Season with salt and cook the pasta as instructed on the packet.
  • Check on the broccoli and smash it with the back of your wooden spoon to create a sauce.
  • When the pasta is cooked and ‘al dente’, drain and add to the broccoli sauce and make sure the sauce coats the pasta. Make sure you reserve some of the pasta water and add 2-3 tbsp to the sauce to give it a ‘creamy’ effect.
  • Serve immediately with ground black pepper and grated parmesan (optional).

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