Serves a Crowd

Spaghetti & Broccoli

August  9, 2010
6 Ratings
  • Serves a crowd
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.

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bevi
  • NotTooSweet
  • hardlikearmour
  • gingerroot
  • monkeymom

24 Reviews

Bevi April 27, 2022
We had this for last Sunday's dinner, although I have made it many times. It could not be easier, more delicious, or more satisfying. The addition of lemon zest and crushed red pepper is the key to a really outstanding meal. We go heavy on the cheese, which melts very easily when mixed with the pasta in the heated serving dish.
boulangere April 27, 2022
Making this tonight.
lapadia April 27, 2022
Hi! It's a happy day when I get to hear from the two of you :); it's been awhile. Bevi, thanks for your input and Cynthia I know you will like, I say it is the same category as your First night in Florence spaghetti recipe here on F52. xoxo
boulangere April 27, 2022
Salivating as we speak.
NotTooSweet February 4, 2015
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!
lapadia February 4, 2015
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!"
whmcdevitt August 12, 2014
delicious pasta dish, love the lemon zest , garlic, hot pepper flavors and how they meld together. light and very tasty! thank you!
lapadia August 13, 2014
Thanks for your feedback, I'm so happy you enjoyed this pasta!
Betty B. March 22, 2014
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!
lapadia March 22, 2014
Thanks for your feedback, BB, it has always been a family favorite for us, too!
Bevi September 6, 2013
Will have to try this soon! It will be an instant winner in our family.
lapadia September 6, 2013
Thanks Bevi! Circle back after you've tried it :)
salena July 15, 2013
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.
lapadia July 16, 2013
How wonderful, Salena! Cheers to your broccoli, garlic and my grandmother, too :) Glad you enjoyed...
Muse May 8, 2013
I wonder if you can also add snow pea pods to this recipe along with the broccoli?
lapadia May 8, 2013
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! :)
hardlikearmour January 21, 2012
This is some seriously good pasta! Garlicky, sweet, savory, yum!
lapadia January 22, 2012
Thrilled you tried our family favorite and happy you enjoyed it, HLA! :)
gingerroot August 13, 2010
YUM! This looks fantastic. I am going to make this soon...broccoli is the other green vegetable that both of my children agree on.
lapadia August 19, 2010
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!
monkeymom August 13, 2010
This looks SO good.
lapadia August 19, 2010
This has always been a family favorite around here!
AntoniaJames August 9, 2010
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)
lapadia August 9, 2010
Love soba!