Broccoli Pasta is a delicious baked pasta, a creamy cheesy comfort food dish that the whole family will love. For fall and winter, there is nothing better than a cozy warm pasta casserole for dinner.
We are now into the start of one of my favourite Seasons, Fall and Broccoli! It’s a darn good thing we like it. Tomatoes, Zucchini, Eggplant, and Green beans have all finished for the season. I am sorry to see them go but I look forward to all the Autumn produce. Especially broccoli because it means I can make this cheesy broccoli pasta bake.
Now that’s it’s fall, the Italian and his brother have gone crazy with Broccoli and Broccoletti. When I first came to Italy and tasted broccoletti (broccoli rabe), it fast became one of my all-time-favourites.
I love it just pan-fried with a little olive oil and garlic or baked in the oven with pasta and cheese. It does have a bite to it and some people need to acquire the taste for it, but once you do, there is no going back!
In my opinion, during the cooler months, you can’t get a better comfort dish than a Baked Pasta. And this Cheesy Broccoli Pasta is perfect! Made with a simple tomato sauce, a mild creamy cheese and of course my favourite, Parmigiano.
- Short pasta – I like penne for this recipe because the rigid pasta, as the Italian says, holds all the saucy cheesy stuff the best.
- Broccoli florets – you can use a Romanesco or Calabrese broccoli.
- Tomato puree – also known as passata or conserva, no additions, just plain tomato puree.
- Chopped garlic
- Shredded Fontina cheese – or, if you can’t find it, Gruyere cheese is a good substitute.
- Parmesan Cheese – It’s always best to buy a chunk and grate your own.
How to Make Broccoli Pasta Casserole
Place the oil and garlic in a medium-sized pot and warm them over medium heat for about one minute. Add the tomato puree, water, herbs, and salt. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
Boil the penne in salted water for about four minutes. Add the broccoli florets to the water and continue to boil for three to four minutes. Drain the pasta and broccoli well.
Combine the penne and broccoli with the tomato sauce. Add half of the Fontina and Parmesan cheese and toss together.
Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top. Bake the broccoli pasta then serve it right away.
How to cook pasta
Always cook the pasta in enough water, you will need 4 cups (1 litre) for 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of pasta. Be sure to choose the correct size pot, you don’t want the water to reach the rim and overflow, because pasta, when cooked, can increase in volume up to three times. Always cover the pot when boiling the water, but remove it once the pasta has been added.
Calculate about 5g (1 teaspoon) of salt for every litre (quart) of water. Add the salt only when the water has reached a boil and never before.
After adding the pasta to the pot, bring it back to a boil and keep it at a boil while the pasta is cooking. This allows the pasta to achieve an even cooking, be sure to stir frequently while it is cooking.
Never pass the freshly drained pasta under running tap water. You should never stop the cooking, even when you are making a cold pasta salad, let it cool by adding a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking. Drain the pasta al dente, this is done by tasting, if it has a bite to it it’s ready, nothing worse than mushy pasta.
- I like this cheesy pasta bake made fresh hot from the oven. You can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator to bake later, but I wouldn’t do this more than a day in advance. If you put it in the oven cold, you may need to bake it a little longer.
- Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days and can be rewarmed.
- I use Fontina for this recipe, but Gruyere or even Provolone will work well, too.
Creamy, cheesy, delicious, and what better way to sneak in some healthy Broccoli? An easy way to get kids and adults who are not veggie lovers, especially broccoli, to eat their greens.
Thank goodness I am lucky enough to never have had this problem with my kids. But I think most kids and adults will love this, creamy, Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake. And who can say no to Pasta? Buon Appetito!
More Delicious Baked Pasta Recipes
Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake
- 3 cups cooked short pasta (I used penne pasta)
- 4 cups broccoli florets (raw)
- 3/4 cup tomato puree (passata/conserva)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 cup Fontina/Fontal cheese (gruyere or provolone are a good substitute)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly oil an 8 x 6 inch (20×15 cm) baking dish.
- In a large pan heat the olive oil and garlic (for approximately 1 minute) then add the tomato puree (passata), water, basil, oregano and salt, simmer on medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, until thickened.
- While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta in salted boiling water for approximately 4 minutes then add the broccoli florets and continue to boil for approximately 3-4 minutes, drain well, do not rinse.
- Add the pasta and broccoli to the sauce, add half the Fontina and 1/2 the Parmesan cheese and toss gently, place in the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining Fontina and Parmesan cheese. Bake approximately 20 minutes, serve immediately. Enjoy!
Reposted from November 9, 2015.