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White plate with orecchiette pasta in a broccoli sauce. Dollops of ricotta on top with golden breadcrumbs scattered.

The Best Broccoli Pasta Recipe

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  • Author: Emilie Pullar
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 - 3 people
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Pasta of your choice, see notes

For the sauce

2 x heads broccoli

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1/2 teaspoon - 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (depending on your spice preference)

2 tablespoons white miso paste

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the crumb

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

3 - 4 garlic cloves, minced

For the ricotta

125 grams ricotta (1/2 cup)

20 grams parmesan, very finely grated

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper


Make the crumb topping

  1. In a fry pan heat the olive oil over a medium - high heat and toast the panko crumbs until golden. 
  2. Half way through when just starting to colour, add the garlic and continue cooking, stirring often. The crumbs can catch fast so lower the heat if you need to and keep them moving.
  3. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

Make the ricotta topping

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. You can whiz in a little mini processor to get it really smooth if you wish.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the sauce

  1. Get a large pot of boiling water on to boil and salt generously.
  2. Break down the broccoli into small florets, keeping any leaves and thinly slicing a few centimetres of the stalks too.
  3. Add the stem pieces to the boiling water and then follow with the florets a minute later.
  4. Wait for the water to come back to the boil then cook for a further 30 seconds then remove with a spider strainer or slotted spoon. We want to keep the water to boil the pasta in.
  5. In a large skillet or Dutch oven pour the olive oil and add the garlic cold then bring to a very gentle sizzle over a medium heat. Normally you never add oil cold but this gives the oil time to infuse with the garlic.
  6. When the garlic has been gently sizzling for a minute add the chilli flakes and turn the heat down slightly, cook for 2 mins, stirring constantly.
  7. Add the miso paste and stir well, I like to use a flat whisk. Cook for a further minute.
  8. Add the broccoli to the pan, stir well to coat in the miso mixture and add the stock.
  9. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook for 5 minutes until broccoli is nice and soft. 
  10. Get your pasta cooking in the broccoli water according to package directions, I always undercook my pasta by a minute so it can simmer in the sauce to finish cooking.
  11. Now you need to mash the broccoli. Take about 1/2 - 3/4 of the broccoli mixture and blitz with a stick blender.
  12. Mash the remaining broccoli with a spoon or potato masher, retaining some texture and pieces.
  13. Put it all back in the pan over heat and add your cooked pasta with a splash of pasta water.
  14. Add the lemon juice and then season to taste (my measurements are just a guide).
  15. Gently simmer for a minute or so adding extra pasta water if needed.

For serving

Divide the pasta between bowls and top with the panko crumbs, a couple of dollops of the ricotta mixture, extra grated parmesan, lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil. Plus some extra chilli flakes if you wish!


  • I found it hard doing a yield for this sauce. I think it could stretch to 4 people but comfortable serves 2 - 3 if you like it really saucy. 
  • Pasta portions. I serve 150 grams fresh per person or 100 grams dried per person.
  • This sauce does need the chilli hit but I am weak and only like a touch. Please taste and add as much as you personally like.
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Vegetarian
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian