This creamy broccoli pasta recipe loads up on parmesan cheese, lots of sautéed broccoli, and the perfect amount of cream for a rich, easy pasta recipe your family will love.
My motivation to be in the kitchen the past couple of weeks has been waning for some reason. I find myself going to bed early and hunkering down more into my full-time day job. I don’t know if it’s just the gloomy weather, but all I want to do is cozy up under layers of thick blankets. This creamy broccoli pasta recipe is the perfect cure for all the winter no-motivation-moods. It’s an easy and perfect midweek dinner recipe.
How to make this creamy broccoli pasta recipe:
What I love about this recipe is just how easy and versatile this meal is. Here’s what you need:
- Aromatics: I used a mix of leeks and onion. Try it with roasted garlic or fennel.
- Veggies: The star of the show is broccoli, but this dish could easily be adapted for Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or cubed squash.
- Sauce: The sauce is made with just water or broth, parmesan, cream, parsley, and lemon juice.
- Pasta: Try it with a thick tubular pasta; I use lumache, which is a snail shell pasta shape. Rigatoni, penne, or even medium shells would work perfectly.
Making this dish is just a few short steps:
- Step 1: Fry up the aromatics until softened. Remove them from the pan, so they don’t burn.
- Step 2: Cook up the broccoli until bright green.
- Step 3: Toss the broccoli with the aromatics and add the water, cream, parmesan, parsley, and lots of black pepper. Simmer until just thick.
- Step 4: Finish it up! Add cooked pasta to the pot, loosen it up with a little bit of pasta cooking water if needed, and finish with lemon juice.
Looking for more pasta recipes? Check my archives!
Creamy Broccoli Pasta
- 2 Large pots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 leeks, trimmed, scrubbed, and sliced into rounds
- 1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅓ cup loosely packed fresh parsley, minced, plus more for serving
- 1 cup water or vegetable stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 16 ounces pasta
- ¼ cup pasta cooking water
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain and set aside.
Sauté the onion and leeks:
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and leeks and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into the onion and leeks and continue cooking 5 minutes.
- Remove the onion and leeks from the pot.
Cook the broccoli:
- Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into the pot and turn the heat to medium. Add the broccoli and season all over with salt and pepper. Add a big pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until bright green.
Prepare the sauce:
- In a bowl, combine the parmesan cheese, black pepper, and fresh minced parsley and mix to combine.
- Return the leeks and onion to the pot and stir to combine. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Whisk in the parmesan-parsley mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Stir in the heavy cream and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until just thickened.
Sauce the pasta:
- Pour in the cooked pasta and toss to coat, adding pasta cooking water as needed. Stir in the lemon juice and toss to combine. Taste and season to your preferences. Turn off the heat.
- Divide the cooked pasta between bowls and garnish with a pinch more of fresh parsley and parmesan. Enjoy!