Spaghetti & Broccoli

By • August 9, 2010 20 Comments

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Author Notes: Spaghetti and Broccoli, as we called it, is simple, delicious comfort food and a typical dish from the Puglia region, where my mom came from.

It is a family favorite and a “hit” with friends outside the family as well; this recipe is handed down from one generation to the next, it is a dish we have often. I’ve adapted from my Grandma who liked her pasta cheesy and mild, as did my mother, but I like it tweaked up with lemon zest and red pepper flakes.

This dish was a fitting tribute paid to my Grandmother, after funeral services, when we served endless Spaghetti and Broccoli – definitely a true Celebration of her Life, in our family.

Serves a crowd

  • 1 lb. dry spaghetti (I prefer De Cecco)
  • 1 lb. broccoli flowers and stems (I use 1 bag of frozen when broccoli is no longer garden fresh)
  • 6-8 large garlic cloves, 1/2 of them minced, 1/2 sliced
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes - to your taste
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil…divided in half
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt…plus extra for the boiling pasta water
  • 1/4 cup pasta water...divided in half
  • 1 cup micro-plane grated Pecorino/Parmesan mix - divided in half.
  • Extra cheese for individual plates after serving.
  1. In a small bowl, add the minced garlic, lemon zest and red pepper flakes; whisk and reserve for later.
  2. Place a large heatproof serving dish or bowl in the oven, heated @ 200 degrees. Note: I sometimes use a large saute pan.
  3. Start a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the spaghetti noodles half way. Add the broccoli. Finish cooking until pasta is al dente and broccoli is tender. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water - divide in half.
  4. Meanwhile, in a nonstick pan, heat the first 3 tablespoons of olive oil; add onion and saute until soft.
  5. Add the sliced garlic and 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, stir until the garlic is pale yellow colored.
  6. Take pan off the heat. Stir in the reserved minced garlic/lemon zest/red pepper flakes and add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. Reserve until needed in step #8.
  7. Drain the spaghetti/broccoli and transfer to the warmed serving bowl or dish. Add the last 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining pasta water - toss to coat.
  8. Now add the reserved onion/garlic, olive oil mixture (from step #6) and the first half of grated cheese, toss to combine.
  9. Sprinkle with the last half of the grated cheese and serve.
  10. Or at this point you can cover with foil and let sit in oven for up to a half hour - the pasta and broccoli will be cooked a bit more…but personally, I like it that way.

More Great Recipes: Pasta|Vegetables|Entrees|Broccoli

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Comments (20) Questions (0)


7 months ago NotTooSweet

We had this last night and licked our pasta bowls clean! I used a very good pasta and added about 1/2 pound more broccoli. Simple, delicious and I believe it warrants "genius" status!


7 months ago lapadia

Thanks so much for your wonderful feedback, NTS and I'm so happy you and family enjoyed it all the way to the very last "lick!"


about 1 year ago whmcdevitt

delicious pasta dish, love the lemon zest , garlic, hot pepper flavors and how they meld together. light and very tasty! thank you!


about 1 year ago lapadia

Thanks for your feedback, I'm so happy you enjoyed this pasta!


over 1 year ago Betty Burner

Finally getting around to telling you how much we love this dish!
This has been the perfect go to dish for those nights we're running a bit late and want something easy,comforting and tasty!


over 1 year ago lapadia

Thanks for your feedback, BB, it has always been a family favorite for us, too!


almost 2 years ago Bevi

Will have to try this soon! It will be an instant winner in our family.


almost 2 years ago lapadia

Thanks Bevi! Circle back after you've tried it :)


about 2 years ago salena

a tribute to your grandmother. I had to quickly pick all my broccoli in the garden (the worms were descending and the heat was intensifying)and this was a wonderful, flavorful dish (the garlic was fresh too). Thank you.


about 2 years ago lapadia

How wonderful, Salena! Cheers to your broccoli, garlic and my grandmother, too :) Glad you enjoyed...


over 2 years ago Muse

I wonder if you can also add snow pea pods to this recipe along with the broccoli?


over 2 years ago lapadia

Hi Muse! Yes, go for it, I don't know why not. Would love to get feedback. I have added a lot of extras over the years..such as cauliflower and another being smoked oysters, however you would need to like oysters for that one! :)


over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This is some seriously good pasta! Garlicky, sweet, savory, yum!


over 3 years ago lapadia

Thrilled you tried our family favorite and happy you enjoyed it, HLA! :)


about 5 years ago gingerroot

YUM! This looks fantastic. I am going to make this soon...broccoli is the other green vegetable that both of my children agree on.


about 5 years ago lapadia

This is a great combination for kids, the noodles, cheese and broccoli; as a kid it was my favorite, I preferred it before the red sauce and meatballs!


about 5 years ago monkeymom

This looks SO good.


about 5 years ago lapadia

This has always been a family favorite around here!


about 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Great recipe!! Thank you so much for posting it. I'm going to make it (using soba) for lunch one day this week. Cannot wait. ;o)


about 5 years ago lapadia

Love soba!