25 Minute Creamy Broccoli Pasta (22g Protein per Bowl)
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This garlicky, lemony, creamy broccoli pasta is the perfect quick & healthy pasta dish for busy weekdays that will please the whole family. Get ready to meet your new go-to easy pasta recipe!
I’ll be the first to admit: not everyone loves broccoli. It’s one of those notorious veggies, like brussel sprouts, that kids love to hate and adults feel a reluctant duty to consume. Well, I am here to show you just what an amazing broccoli recipe can look like.
So how about it: perfectly cooked broccoli, stirred into a creamy garlicky sauce with a lemon & chilli kick, all tossed together with pasta and maybe even sprinkled with a few crunchy sunflower seeds? Broccoli is looking a bit more appealing now, am I right?
Broccoli Pasta Ingredients
Any pasta works! I like it with penne pasta or tagliatelle. I always try to choose whole grain pasta if I can – whole grain foods are generally healthier!
Fresh broccoli works best, but there’s nothing wrong with frozen broccoli. It has even been suggested that frozen veggies have as much (if not more) nutrients than fresh veggies!
Vegetable broth is what brings the rich, salty flavour to this vegetarian pasta recipe. Try and buy low sodium if you can!
Instead of using heavy cream, I stick to cream cheese for this sauce. It’s lighter, while still being super creamy and delicious. If you are trying to cut down on fat, why not go for low fat cream cheese?
A squeeze of lemon, or if you fancied it, a scraping of lemon zest, really brightens up the dish. Creamy pasta can feel a bit heavy or bland, but with a kick of citrus to cut through the cream, you’re in pasta heaven!
Olive oil is such a healthy fat, we can’t sing its praises enough!
I would suggest 2 cloves garlic, but you are welcome to add more. Garlic powder is also an option, but it is just never as flavourful as the fresh stuff.
How many calories are in this Broccoli Pasta?
This broccoli pasta contains 571 calories per serving.
Here is a quick rundown of the macros:
What’s more, it’s vegetarian (like all our recipes) and egg-free!
Broccoli contains notable levels of vitamin K, A, B1, B2, B3, B6, fibre, iron, zinc…the list goes on! These all help with cancer prevention, better cardiovascular health through lowering of cholesterol, digestive support and providing antioxidants!
Between them, the broccoli and cream cheese provide you with protein, which is crucial to any healthy diet. Protein is particularly important if you are trying to build muscle – if that’s you, you should check out our High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan.
How to make the best broccoli pasta
- Prep work: Cook the pasta in a large pot of water, according to package instructions! Chop the veggies: broccoli, onion and garlic. Even frozen pasta will chop fairly well, if you use that.
- Cook work: If you’re using frozen broccoli florets, whack them in a pan with olive oil,, some water and cover, it will thaw quicker that way. Add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes or so! Make sure the broccoli is al dente, if you overcook it will get soggy and bland.
- Sauce time: Now it’s time to get that creamy sauce going!! Add the cream cheese and mix, then slowly pour in the vegetable broth. Keep an eye on the mixture while adding the broth – if it’s looking watery, stop! But don’t worry, once we add the cornstarch mix, everything will ‘cream up’ nicely.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add to the broccoli cream mix. Stir in the salt, black pepper, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. A teaspoon of honey is a great addition to enhance the overall flavour!
- Assemble: Plate the broccoli pasta and garnish with sunflower seeds, halved olives and crumbled feta cheese. You could even go the extra mile and roast the seeds!
FAQ’s & Pro Tips
Can I make this ahead?
You could prepare the pasta sauce ahead and store in an airtight container for a couple of days/freeze, but the broccoli really needs to be fresh!
How to store and reheat
This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days until the next time you want to eat it! Best to reheat in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water, because the cream cheese will have solidified somewhat and you’ll want to stir it smooth.
Is broccoli pasta healthy?
Yes! It contains plenty of fibre, protein and nutrients – mostly thanks to the broccoli. Cream cheese is a healthier alternative to cream sauce, though of course it still contains fat.
But for most people, fat isn’t something to be too afraid of – it is an important macro!
What goes well with broccoli?
A million different things! I’ve stuck to simple ingredients that even picky eaters will love – like lemon, chilli & garlic!
Furthermore, broccoli lends itself to a cream sauce, because when cooked properly it stays crunchy and firm, so the whole dish doesn’t turn to mush.
Does broccoli cook faster than pasta?
Yes! That’s why this isn’t a one-pot pasta recipe. Broccoli has a shorter cooking time than pasta so if you boiled them together you’d get mush!
But don’t worry, it’s still an easy recipe with minimal ingredients and washing up!
Broccoli Pasta Variations
To make this gluten free, swap the regular pasta for gluten-free pasta.
To make this low-fat – swap regular cream cheese for low fat cream cheese!
Making this vegan is a bit more complicated – you could swap the cream cheese for vegan cream cheese or soy cream.
If using something like soy cream, you will probably need less stock, as you don’t want the sauce to get watery!
More delicious recipes using broccoli!!
Love cheesy creamy broccoli, but wish it could be vegan? Try our vegan broccoli cheese casserole!
Looking for something lighter? Try this broccoli cauliflower soup!
Or are you after more vegetarian pasta recipes? Maybe this tomato spinach pasta will sort you out!
- Bring water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.5 oz wholewheat pasta
- If you're using frozen broccoli, throw it in a pan right away with olive oil and some water. Cover with a lid – the broccoli thaws more quickly.1 tsp olive oil, 3 cups broccoli
- If using fresh, wash and cut the fresh broccoli into small florets. Next, peel and dice the onion; same with the cloves of garlic.3 cups broccoli, 2 cloves garlic, 1 onion
- Heat up the olive oil in a pan, then add the broccoli, onion and garlic. On medium heat let everything simmer for 8-10 minutes.1 tsp olive oil
- Now it’s time to add the cream cheese and the vegetable broth.4 oz low fat cream cheese, ½ cup vegetable broth
- Add salt, pepper and a few chili flakes to taste. To give it another kick, give a few splashes of lemon juice and a tsp of honey to the mix.1 tsp lemon juice, Salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp chili flakes, 1 tsp honey
- Mix cornstarch with 2 tbsp cold water, then pour into the sauce. and stir until it thickened.1 tsp cornstarch
- Once ready, drain the pasta in a sieve. Save a cup of pasta water! Now add the pasta to the broccoli cream mix. Cook on medium heat for another 5 minutes. Add pasta water by the spoon until wonderfully creamy!
- Serve with the toppings and enjoy!¼ cup black olives, 1.5 oz low fat feta cheese, 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
Did you try this easy broccoli pasta? Let me know what you think in the comments!