Sheet Pan

Broccoli Aglio e Olio With Gremolata Breadcrumbs

April 21, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4 as a main course, more as a side dish
Author Notes

I first had Spaghetti Aglio Olio with Broccoli on a roadtrip to Woodstock, NY with my older sister and her then boyfriend (later husband). I've loved it since. Looking back, that version was probably nothing special, but as a teenager trying out vegetarianism in a house of meat eaters, it was a symbol of adulthood and freedom that I could choose a new, and for my parents, radical way of eating.

My sister, nine years older, was a huge influence on me when I was growing up. She brought me books and exposed me to new food experiences such as fresh vegetables (particularly broccoli), stir fries and home baked cookies. She bought me my first cookbooks, the Moosewood when I went to college and Susan Branch's Heart of the Home for my first wedding anniversary. I was a latecomer to cooking, but other than Jewish holiday food, most of my early influences came from her.

Sadly, it was also my sister who set me on my current course, cooking wise. She died three years ago, of a sudden heart attack at age 53. Doctors have advised me that the cardiac history of a sibling is even more telling than that of a parent. So, in an effort to do whatever possible to fight genetics, I try to eat well while being well.

I miss her everyday, so it's in her honor that I submit this recipe as the one I'd like to be remembered for. I came up with this last year for the broccoli contest in an attempt to recreate the dish I loved so long ago. I've updated it and made it my own. This recipe includes anchovies, so it's no longer vegetarian, but then, neither am I. —healthierkitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a spin on a classic Italian pasta dish, turning everyday ingredients (many of which you may already have in your pantry) into a special pasta dish with strong flavors and a welcome crunch. The anchovy filets and Aleppo pepper up the flavor quotient, while the herbed breadcrumbs elevate it to something you could serve dinner guests. I loved how garlicky this recipe was, but use less than the full six cloves if you'd like it to be milder. Note: If you cannot find Aleppo pepper, a 3:1 ratio of paprika to cayenne can be used.

Featured in: How to Grocery Shop for One. —HanaCooks

What You'll Need
  • For the broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, more to taste
  • 1 large bunches broccoli, cut into florets (about 6 cups)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti, whole wheat or semolina, both work fine
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fat anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • For the "gremolata" bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs (I use whole wheat)
  1. Heat oven to 425° F.
  2. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the spaghetti.
  3. Place broccoli florets on a half sheet pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over top and toss to coat. Sprinkle a little kosher or sea salt over top. Roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You want them to cook through and brown a little. Throw the little tiny florets and bits of broccoli into the pan as well -- they will crisp up a bit and provide a nice crunch.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook to "al dente" according to directions on the package.
  5. Heat a high-sided sauté pan, with enough room for the whole recipe, over medium to medium-low heat. Add the 1/4 cup olive oil and then the 5 cloves of garlic. Let the garlic soften and brown a little, but not burn. Add the anchovies and stir until the anchovies dissolve. Add the Aleppo pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Once everything is mixed, leave the burner on very low to keep this warm.
  6. Heat up a small skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the remaining garlic and let it soften and lightly brown. Add the lemon zest and parsley, and then the bread crumbs and mix well. Lower burner to medium-low and let the bread crumb mixture toast lightly.
  7. Once the broccoli is well roasted, add it to the pan with the garlic and anchovy. Mix well to coat.
  8. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan and toss well. If the mixture seems dry, add some of the pasta water a few splashes at a time.
  9. Add about 3/4 of the bread crumb mixture to the pan and mix well.
  10. Once the pasta mixture is in a serving dish, sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Marissa Menegoni
    Marissa Menegoni
  • Jan Goren
    Jan Goren
  • karmaya
  • Ann Wilkinson
    Ann Wilkinson
  • ECMotherwell

40 Reviews

Marissa M. March 1, 2022
This recipe sounds amazing, do you have a vegan alternative for the anchovies?
F00dl0ver! January 20, 2021
Delish! I didn’t have anchovies so I used a few splashes of fish sauce.
Jan G. June 15, 2020
We loved this. I didn't put the pepper in because we had a toddler for dinner. The gremolata was fantastic and perked it right up. We loved it as is and tried a little grated parm which was also great.
Maryann February 8, 2019
I finally made this recipe, long desired. I am not dextrous in the way this recipe so describes (actually, I am not dextrous in any way, carpal tunnel involved). I envisioned myself acrobatically flying though my miserly kitchen, popping the broccoli out of the oven, as I magically swirled the pasta and browned the pangrattato. Not to mention the bathing of the garlic in oil and the melting of anchovies.

Please do not get me wrong; having tasted this pasta, I am enamoured. Just not by the steps as so given.
healthierkitchen September 6, 2019
HI Maryann,

I appreciate the feedback. I wrote this recipe 9 years ago and, at the time, I suppose I was truly in search of a taste memory and not considering how many pans were going at once. I do remember feeling possessed the first time I made it--working with a something akin to a muse (almost a muscle memory I had no basis to have?). I wanted these deep flavors and so....

If you are so inclined to try it again, for ease of preparation, you could make the crumbs ahead of time to save yourself from doing that at the same time, and just throw the broccoli florets right into the pasta water for a few minutes before the pasta is done. I prefer it roasted, but it doesn't have to be.
karmaya March 16, 2015
wanted to buy aleppo pepper, so googled & found this very interesting info:
healthierkitchen April 17, 2015
It is sad. I've been buying Maras for a while and/or turkish grown "Aleppo" pepper. According to my Turkish market, they aren't exactly the same and they do look different to me now that I have both.
Ann W. January 23, 2015
First, what a great story about this recipe. Recipes with meaning and a beautiful history somehow taste better. I cannot wait to try this; usually I blanch broccoli to make my pasta/broccoli version. For time sake, I may try using Panko i/o fresh bread crumbs. I think the anchovies will add a nice depth of flavor. Nice!
healthierkitchen April 17, 2015
Thanks Ann!
ECMotherwell December 3, 2014
Made it last night, and yes! It was outstandingly delicious. Thank you, healthierkitchen! I didn't have Aleppo Pepper on hand (look forward to trying it) and so did the 3:1 paprika to cayenne substitution. (I love smoked paprika, so I used that.) Thanks to HannaCooks for that suggestion! Also, I forgot to take the broccoli out at 15-20 and left it in for 25 minutes. It tasted fantastic, but broke down a bit more in the mixing process than I wanted. Next time, I'll follow the roasting directions to the letter!
healthierkitchen April 17, 2015
Glad to hear you liked it EC!! Broken down or not, I still love the flavors!
Isolina S. May 19, 2014
My very facirite pasta dish! Always different, always good
healthierkitchen April 17, 2015
Thank you Isolina!
Jeni March 18, 2014
I made this for a quick lunch at home alone, though I used the #5 unami anchovy paste. It was perfect for my current meatless diet. Thanks! I moved overseas and your intro made me miss my sister also.
healthierkitchen March 20, 2014
Thanks for writing Jeni! I've had that umami paste and it is pretty terrific tasting.
EmilyC March 14, 2014
Wendy -- I made this as a meatless Friday dinner for Lent, and it was fantastic! This is two great recipes in one as I would gladly eat the broccoli tossed with the garlic-anchovy-Aleppo infused olive oil as a side dish any day! Loved the flavor and texture the breadcrumbs add. My kids liked it too. Will definitely make this again!
healthierkitchen March 15, 2014
So glad you liked it Emily, and particularly pleased your kids did, too! I first came up with this when my kids were younger and they loved it too. Back then I came at this from a pasta perspective, but have cut back on that so much lately, that your vegetable only suggestion is a great one. Maybe with a little farro, too, or quinoa?
arielleclementine June 4, 2012
this sounds amazing! thanks for the recipe!
gingerroot April 30, 2011
I'm not sure how I missed this, but what an incredibly lovely tribute to your sister. I am the oldest of four and my youngest brother is 13 1/2 years younger than me. I have really enjoyed sharing my love of food and cooking with him. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this, healthierkitchen.
healthierkitchen April 30, 2011
Many thanks for commenting gingeroot. I think I got a little emotional over the Passover holiday this year.
lorigoldsby April 28, 2011
ahh the Moosewood, so many memories of that cookbook. Your sharing of such an intensely personal connection--you touch so many people. Thank you for sharing--for so many reasons--not the least of which are some yummy ones!
healthierkitchen April 30, 2011
Thanks for your comment, lorigoldsby. I'm usually pretty vague about why I do what I do, but lately I've been more direct. Not sure what changed...maybe time?
Midge April 27, 2011
OK, I keep getting teary-eyed reading these headnotes. What a great sister and a lovely tribute to her. I considered entering aglio olio, which was a standy in my house growing up and still is, but your version sounds much better!
healthierkitchen April 27, 2011
Thanks Midge. She was terrific! You should enter yours too - can never have too much garlic with pasta!
lapadia April 27, 2011
How wonderful to carry on your sister's legacy, a great tribute! I have this same recipe posted - check it out, (almost used it for this contest), it was a recipe my grandmother made often, and one dear to my heart because of that, and so I will always remember your story now, too! The recipe I have posted is minus your breadcrumbs and anchovy additions, but I hope try that..sounds tasty!
healthierkitchen April 27, 2011
Wow, lapadia, great minds.... I will have to try cheese, too. Was this an Italian grandmother? I always suspected I'm actually Italian! Hope you'll give the anchovy and bread crumbs a try.
lapadia April 27, 2011
Yes, this is my Italian grandmother!
wssmom April 26, 2011
Not only an awesome recipe, but a wonderful tribute! Thank you for sharing it....
healthierkitchen April 27, 2011
Thanks wssmom. Both my husband and I grew up on LI.
wssmom April 27, 2011
And not only did you live to tell about it, you are still speaking in complete sentences! LOL!
Bevi April 26, 2011
I love broccoli and all the ways it can be made. Do you remember the Broccoli/Mushroom/Noodle casserole from Moosewood?

Your lovely story is hitting so close to home. My own little sister is struggling with a terminal illness. One of her few pleasures left is to enjoy a nice meal.
healthierkitchen April 27, 2011
Bevi, I pulled out my Moosewood and I still have a very yellowed scrap of looseleaf binder paper as a bookmark on that page! I'm so sorry that your sister is ill and hope that a recovery or repreive is in her future. Enjoy your time together.
drbabs April 26, 2011
I have tears in my eyes from reading your story. What a great recipe and wonderful tribute to your sister.
healthierkitchen April 27, 2011
Thanks drbabs. I made my daughter read it before I posted to make sure it wasn't too maudlin. I'm only just starting to write about this.
boulangere April 26, 2011
What a great combination. Anchovies and those luscious breadcrumbs - this is far from an ordinary pasta with broccoli. And what a lovely tribute to your sister.
healthierkitchen April 27, 2011
Thanks so much boulangere.
Cupcake921 April 26, 2011
What a great recipe and story! Thank you, I really enjoyed reading it.
healthierkitchen April 26, 2011
Thanks so much LoveJuliette. It was really hard to write this.