Easy Parmesan Pasta with Broccoli Recipe

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 12 ounces pasta (penne, rotini, farfalle, or your favorite shape work well)
  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for a bit of heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water


  • Large pot
  • Large skillet or Dutch oven
  • Colander


  • Prep the Broccoli: Cut broccoli into bite-sized florets. If the stems are thick, peel the outer layer and cut them into small pieces, too.
  • Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. About 2 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets and cook until bright green and crisp-tender.
  • Drain and Reserve Water: Drain the pasta and broccoli, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Make the Sauce: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  • Combine: Add the drained pasta, broccoli, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Toss to combine well with the garlic butter.
  • Add Cheese and Pasta Water: Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and gradually add the reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time until a creamy sauce forms.
  • Serve: Divide the pasta among bowls and top with additional Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of black pepper. Enjoy immediately!


  • Don’t overcook the broccoli: It should be slightly crisp, not mushy.
  • Freshly grated Parmesan is best: It melts more smoothly and has the best flavor.
  • Adjust the consistency: Add more pasta water for a thinner sauce, or less for a thicker sauce.
  • Add-ins: This is a great base recipe! Try adding grilled chicken, sauteed shrimp, or crispy pancetta for extra protein. Sun-dried tomatoes would also be a tasty addition.


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