With simple ingredients that kids and parents will enjoy, this quick and easy family dinner of Creamy Broccoli Pasta is ready to go into regular rotation. Bonus: It takes only 20 minutes to make!

creamy broccoli pasta in white bowls

Creamy Broccoli Pasta

This creamy pasta with broccoli is a quick and easy family dinner that we love. It’s a nice way to change up pasta night, and I love that it’s a satisfying vegetarian meal.

You cook the broccoli at the end of cooking the pasta—right in the same pot—which simplifies the process and means less cleanup. Then, all you need to do is drain and toss with the sauce.

The creaminess comes from the addition of ricotta, which also has a bright and light flavor. And you can add lemon for an additional burst of flavor.

Ingredients You Need

Here’s a look at the ingredients in this broccoli pasta recipe so you know what to pick up at the store.

ingredients in creamy broccoli pasta
  • Pasta: I used farfalle pasta in this recipe, which is a nice bowtie shape. You can use any other shape you like.
  • Broccoli florets: You can cut them off of the broccoli head or buy a bag of precut florets from the produce aisle.
  • Garlic powder: A little garlic powder adds nice extra flavor to the finished pasta dish.
  • Ricotta cheese: Creamy, fresh ricotta (preferably whole milk) is a delicious addition to pasta.
  • Fresh lemon: This is optional but recommended.
  • Parmesan cheese: This is an optional topping but recommended.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at how to make this recipe. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the full info.

how to make broccoli pasta step by step
  1. Add the ingredients for the cottage cheese sauce to the blender.
  2. Blend smooth.
  3. Prepare pasta, adding the broccoli at the tail end of cooking. Drain and toss with butter.
  4. Toss the pasta and broccoli with the sauce, adding some reserved pasta water until creamy.

TIP: Ladle out some of the pasta water before you drain so you have it set aside and ready to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of pasta is best for this recipe?

You can really use whichever type of pasta you prefer, though regular semolina or whole wheat pasta will leave gluten in the pasta water that will help to make the sauce smooth. If you want to use gluten-free pasta, you can replace the pasta cooking water with broth or stock.

Can I use frozen broccoli in this recipe?

To use frozen broccoli instead of fresh, add it to the pasta cooking pot for just the final minute of cooking.

Can I make this recipe ahead?

Sure thing. Save any remaining pasta cooking water in an airtight container and add it to the pasta if it needs more moisture when reheating.

creamy broccoli pasta in white bowls

How to Store

Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in a heat-safe bowl or plate to serve.

Best Tips for Success

  • Ladle out some of the pasta water before you drain so you have it set aside and ready to use.
  • Use whichever type of pasta your family prefers.
  • If using gluten-free pasta, you can use stock or broth instead of pasta water to smooth out the sauce.
  • Use full-fat ricotta cheese for the creamiest results.
  • To use frozen broccoli instead of fresh, add it to the pasta cooking pot for just the final minute of cooking.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear your feedback if you try this recipe, so please comment below to share.

creamy-broccoli-pasta

Creamy Pasta with Broccoli

Feel free to cut this recipe in half to make a smaller portion for your family. (Or make the full batch and enjoy the leftovers!)
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Cuisine Italian
Course Dinner
Calories 309kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces pasta
  • 16 ounces broccoli florets (about 2 small heads)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  • Prepare pasta according to package directions, using a very large pot. Add the broccoli for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander. Return to the pot. Toss with the butter.
  • Meanwhile, add the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, Parmesan cheese, and ¼ cup cold water to blender. Blend smooth.
  • Add the cheese mixture to the pot with the pasta and broccoli. Use a spatula to toss the pasta until coated, adding a little of the reserved pasta water at a time until a smooth, but thick sauce forms.
  • Transfer pasta to a large bowl and top with additional cheese to serve—if desired.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat to serve, stirring in a little of the reserved pasta water, regular water, or broth if needed.

Notes

  • Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in a heat-safe bowl or plate to serve.
  • Ladle out some of the pasta water before you drain so you have it set aside and ready to use.
  • Use whichever type of pasta your family prefers.
  • If using gluten-free pasta, you can use stock or broth instead of pasta water to smooth out the sauce.
  • Save any remaining pasta cooking water to add moisture when reheating the pasta.
  • To use frozen broccoli instead of fresh, add it to the pasta cooking pot for just the final minute of cooking.
  • This does taste lemony so you may want to reduce the amount of lemon juice slightly if that flavor is new to your kids.
  • Use cottage cheese instead of ricotta if preferred.

Nutrition

Calories: 309kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 359mg, Potassium: 348mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 532IU, Vitamin C: 53mg, Calcium: 132mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published June 2019.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Super quick, and easy and our 4 year old loves it! She saw me bringing it to the table this evening and exclaimed, “oh! That’s my favorite!” I love adding a cup of frozen peas or shelled edemame when I toss in the brocolli. Thank you Amy!

  2. 5 stars
    I just want you to know that my 21 month old LOVED this!! He ate so much ☺️ I also loved how easy this was to make and my son was even able to help. We love your recipes, thank you so much!

  3. the ingredient list calls for riccotta cheese but recipe for cottage cheese, are they interchangeable with cooking?

    1. It wouldn’t have the same texture so I’m not sure I would. Ricotta cheese would work though

  4. 5 stars
    How do you think it would turn out without the parmesan cheese? Do you think nutritional yeast (maybe not quite so much) would be an ok substitute?

    1. I think it would be okay but you’d perhaps need a little more salt. Taste it and see what you think!