This creamy broccoli pasta recipe comes together fast and makes a delicious and comforting meatless meal! It's great for a quick and easy yet totally satisfying weeknight dinner.
Why you'll love it
This easy broccoli pasta doesn't take long to prepare, and I use the shortcut of cooking the broccoli with the pasta. You simply add the broccoli in 2-3 minutes prior to draining it and don't have to worry about dirtying up another pot to boil the broccoli separately. Fewer dishes after work is always a win!
You'll also appreciate how this is a hassle-free way to get some veggies into your life. Picky eaters won't be able to resist the creamy and bright lemon parmesan sauce, and it complements the broccoli so well. It's another 30-minute weeknight wonder for your quick pasta rotation that requires no fancy ingredients.
What goes into it
- Pasta - our kitchen used penne because they're perfect vessels for the creamy sauce
- Broccoli - for some veggie goodness. We're using fresh broccoli here.
- Butter & flour - to make a quick roux to thicken the sauce
- Garlic - for some savory depth. I like to use this garlic press to mince the cloves without having to peel them.
- Broth - I chose chicken broth, but you're welcome to use vegetable broth if you need this to be vegetarian
- Lemon juice - always use freshly squeezed from real lemons
- Italian seasoning - it's a fragrant blend of dried Italian herbs that happens to come all in one convenient jar! I use it in so many of my recipes since it's so versatile.
- Heavy cream - to give the sauce its signature luxurious taste and texture
- Parmesan - as always, I recommend keeping a wedge of parmesan cheese in your fridge and grating your own. I used my Microplane to grate it for this dish.
How to make creamy broccoli pasta
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Boil the penne al dente, and add in the broccoli a few minutes prior to the pasta being done. Meanwhile, in a skillet make a roux, followed by adding in the garlic, broth, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. Let it reduce, and then whisk in the cream. Stir in the parmesan and remove from the heat.
Drain the pasta and broccoli, and add them to the skillet. Toss with the sauce, adding a splash of starchy pasta water if desired. Generously season with salt & pepper, top with more parmesan, and enjoy immediately.
- Broccoli cooking time will depend on how big the florets are chopped and how soft you prefer the broccoli, so I recommend trying a piece prior to draining the pot to make sure it's cooked to your liking.
Substitutions and variations
- Sub the cream for something lower fat at your own discretion. The citrus in the sauce may curdle something like half-and-half or milk, and the sauce will definitely end up thinner.
- Feel free to swap the penne with a different shape of pasta. Something similar size and sturdy like rigatoni would be ideal.
- Add some crushed red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little heat if that's your thing!
What to serve with it
- This simple broccoli pasta is a great complete meal in and of itself! Try serving it with a slice of crusty bread, a dinner roll, or Garlic Bread if you want to go all out.
- If you're craving a salad with it, throw together some mixed greens and fresh vegetables with this Homemade Ranch Dressing or my Creamy Balsamic Dressing.
Leftovers and storage
- This pasta is best served fresh, but you can store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- To warm up leftovers, I'd recommend using a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of broth or cream to revive the sauce if needed.
- Freezing this one won't work well. The texture of the creamy sauce won't come out right after thawing.
Pasta and broccoli are such a fantastic combo. Questions or want to leave me a review? Let me know in the comments below! As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram with your creations.
Creamy Broccoli Pasta
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta (I used penne)
- 3 heaping cups broccoli cut into small florets
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 tablespoon flour
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Boil a large, salted pot of water. Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. When the pasta is 2-3 minutes away from being done, you will add the broccoli to the water.
- Add the butter to a skillet over medium-high heat, and once it's melted, stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- To the skillet, add in the garlic, broth, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. Let it bubble for a minute or so.
- Whisk in the cream and let it cook for a few minutes until it's thickened up to your liking, then stir in the parmesan cheese and take the pan off the heat.
- Drain the pasta and broccoli and add it to the skillet. If the sauce has thickened up too much, add a small splash of the pasta water prior to draining it. Season the pasta with salt & pepper (I'm generous with both) as needed and serve immediately with extra parmesan grated on top if desired.
- My broccoli was fairly soft after boiling it for 3 minutes (I cut it quite small). Do 1-2 minutes if you prefer more tender-crisp. It also depends how small you chop the florets, so it's a good idea to test one piece prior to draining the pot so you can cook it for a little extra if needed.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.