Simple, Stop-Trying-So-Hard Broccoli Spaghetti

July 12, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This recipe is made with humble pantry staples like spaghetti, broccoli, and lemon, and it's an unusual marriage between Italian and Korean flavors. Unlike traditional cream pasta, this dish is served in a spicy, soul-warming broth whose base is an unlikely candidate: milk.James Park

Food52 Review: Featured in: I'm a Chef—but Broccoli Spaghetti Was All My Family Wanted From Me.The Editors

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min


  • 8 ounces dried pasta, like spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, half sliced and half crushed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
In This Recipe


  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat. When butter is melt, add sliced and crushed garlic and red pepper flakes until they are fragrant. Stir occasionally to make sure garlic and red pepper flakes don't get burnt.
  2. Once they are fragrant, add sliced onion and broccoli florets. Season them with salt and pepper. Toss everything until onions are translucent and florets are tender but still firm, for 3-4 minutes. Add lemon zest at the end and quickly toss everything again until it's fragrant.
  3. Add whole milk to the pot with salt and garlic powder and let it simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta, occasionally stirring, until very al dente (2–3 minutes less than package directions). Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  5. Using tongs, add pasta to milk broth. Cook everything over high heat and bring everything together with pasta water and Parmesan for a minute, or until the pasta is cooked when you taste, "al dente" if you can.
  6. Serve pasta with freshly cracked black pepper and more grated Parmesan cheese.

More Great Recipes:

Reviews (26) Questions (0)

26 Reviews

Austin B. September 17, 2018
Reminds me of shrimp scampi, minus the shrimp. Not bad, wouldn't really make again though.
Claudine L. September 8, 2018
This really touched me! We always cook pasta with a little bit of broccoli, some cauliflower and one peeled, diced potato like my dad did. We drain most of the water and add olive oil with lots of sautéed garlic and Parmesan cheese and black pepper. It soothes us when we return from a trip or a stressful situation.
Marcy September 7, 2018
Your story touched my heart. Thank you for writing it. I look forward to trying this recipe!
Zozo September 5, 2018
Ahaha this is the best story! So true, I think I know what I'll cook for my parents next time they fly over!
Author Comment
James P. September 5, 2018
Hi Zozo! Hope you give this a try! Super simple, but it hits all the spots :)
MaryDouglas September 3, 2018
I loved your story! Perhaps you could be a chef AND author!
Author Comment
James P. September 5, 2018
Hi Mary! Thank you so much! I am no where to be an author, but thank you for your kind words :)
Nancy September 5, 2018
I agree. I think it would make a great youngest reader book: your story of finding yourself, your family’s visit, the recipe, written for children about your good culture and self discovery, and an easy recipe to make with some adult help.
The soup is nutritious too.
Ask around. Best wishes!
Nancy September 5, 2018
Food culture. Food. Food. Sorry about that auto fill. But good food culture definitely.
LULULAND August 29, 2018
Just made this. I thought the sauce was too runny, so I thickened it up with corn starch. I would use a little less pepper flakes, but the flavor was good with the lemon, it picked up the dish!
Author Comment
James P. September 5, 2018
Ah! Those pepper flakes were meant to add that signature kick, found in Korean stews, but totally customizable :) I am glad you enjoyed it! The "sauce" is almost like a broth, so it's okay if it's runny.
Victoria V. August 28, 2018
Hi, what does "4 garlic" mean? Is that 4 cloves?
Eric K. August 28, 2018
Yup, 4 cloves of garlic. I've updated the recipe to reflect that; thanks for asking!
Jeanie August 27, 2018
I made this tonight with gf black bean pasta. SO DELICIOUS! Definitely making this for company! Thank you!
Author Comment
James P. August 29, 2018
Hi Jeanie, GF black bean pasta sounds great! I hope you enjoyed this milky broth as much as my mom did!
Bev August 27, 2018
Lovely story. Will try the recipe tonight. Hope your chef career is all you dreamed of!
Author Comment
James P. August 29, 2018
Hi Bev! Hope the dish turned out well! Let's see where my life takes me!
Fred M. August 26, 2018
I am definitely interested in making this ... Your story was so wonderful it makes me want to try this in honor of your mother
Author Comment
James P. August 29, 2018
Hi Fred! Thank you so much for reading my story, and I hope you give this recipe a try!
Sara August 22, 2018
Lovely story. Can’t wait to try this recipe
Author Comment
James P. August 22, 2018
Hi Sara! Thank you so much! I am excited for you to try the recipe!
Jodi August 22, 2018
I apologise, I meant cooked, not cooled. Couldn't find an edit feature for my previous comment.
Author Comment
James P. August 22, 2018
Hi Jodi! That's not a bad idea to be honest! But I think finishing the noodle in the milk broth will help the noodle absorb the flavors more rather than simply adding cooked pasta to the broth, but I think either way will be delicious!
Jodi August 22, 2018
This sounds fantastic! I wonder what it would be like if you just cooled the pasta directly in the milk broth!?
Machi August 21, 2018
I really loved your story and will try your recipe!
Author Comment
James P. August 22, 2018
Hi Machi! Thank you so much! Let me know after you try the recipe :)