By cooking the broccoli with the pasta until it breaks down, it becomes the pasta sauce. This dish originated in the Puglian region of Italy (the heel of the boot) and is so tasty, it is now beginning to feature in restaurants and homes around the world. This version is adapted from an Ottolenghi version, which has a herb pesto stirred in at the the end. This addition just elevates the recipe another level.
Make it vegan
This one-pan pasta dish can easily be made vegan by swapping the parmesan for half the amount of nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast gives it a savioury umami flavour and you will not miss the cheese!
Orecchiette pasta is ideal for this dish. It holds the broken down broccoli and herbs so well, but you could swap it out for spaghetti or penne at a pinch.
The herb pesto
You can swap the herbs in the pesto for other such as cervil, basil, mint or dill. Avoid rosemary, thyme and sage, since they could overpower this dish.
I blended the rocket, parsley and tarragon leaves first. It is important to add the pine nuts at the end since you don’t want to break these up to much – a bit of crunch is a lovely addition here.
Pasta in Italian broccoli sauce
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 1 large broccoli head approximately 250 g (9 oz)
- pinch salt and pepper
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- 50 ml white wine
- 125 g orecchiette pasta
- 30 g parmesan optional, see notes on how to make this vegan
- 15 g rocket
- 10 g parsley
- 10 g tarragon
- 20 g pine nuts
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- Fry the garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes.
- Break the broccoli into florets and add them with salt and pepper to the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add white wine a stock and 150 ml of water, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for another 5 minutes
- Stir in the pasta, cover, and cook for 12- 15 minutes until the past is soft.
- In the meantime, make the pesto. Blend the herbs, lemon zest and juice, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. If you want to make this vegan, instead of parmesan, you can add 10 g of nutritional yeast.
- Once the pasta is cooked, if the brocoli is not quite broken down, press on it with a wooden spoon to help it fall apart. Stir in the pesto and serve.