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Pasta with Broccoli Rabe (Brocoletti)

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe is a quick, easy good for you Italian Pasta Recipe. Garlic, olive oil, and a sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese make it perfect. It’s a delicious weeknight Comfort Food Dinner idea.

Brocoletti pasta in a black pan.


Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli is my absolute favourite Pasta Dish and believe me I have eaten a few!

Not only do I love the taste of this pasta, but making it always reminds me of my mother-in-law’s vegetable garden! I remember helping her pick all the amazing veggies that she would grow. It’s such a wonderful memory. 

I remember the first time she made this pasta with broccoli rabe for me – it was delicious! I fell in love with it and have since made it many times myself.

Broccoli rabe is the main vegetable in this recipe and it’s delicious. If you’ve never tried it, it’s similar to broccoli but the flavor is a little more bitter. When you cook it, it turns tender and loses some of its bitterness. If you can’t find Broccoli Rabe or Rapini, then regular broccoli will work too.

This dish is traditionally made with orecchiette pasta, also known as “little ears”. Really, any short or long pasta will work – I often make it with spaghetti, so choose your favorite.

This is an easy pasta recipe with simple ingredients and it’s ready in no time. It’s a great weeknight dinner when you’re craving pasta and want something fast.


  • Broccoli rabe
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic cloves
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Cooked pasta
  • salt to taste
Broccoli rabe in a basket.


First, you will want to par-cook the broccoli rabe. The easiest way to do this is to boil it in unsalted water for about 10 minutes. You will want it tender because you will sauté it in oil with the seasonings.

Boil the pasta in a large pot until it’s al dente. Reserve a ladle full of the pasta water and drain the pasta.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add the garlic, broccoli rabe, salt, and red pepper flakes. Use a fork to stir and then use it to press down on the broccoli as it cooks. You only need to cook it for about a minute.

Broccoli rabe in a frying pan.

Add the cooked pasta along with some pasta water. Cook on high heat, tossing the pasta with the other ingredients until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Serve the pasta right away with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Cooked pasta & broccoli rabe in a black pan.

Recipe Tips

Broccoli rabe is sold by the bunches and is easy to prep. To clean it, leave the flower and a small part of the stem and a couple of leaves – these are the tender parts of the vegetable. 

You can par-boil the vegetables ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the dish.

I love this dish just as it is, but you can add things to it to change the flavor. Try adding crumbled cooked hot Italian sausage if you want to add protein. Sweet Italian sausage would also work. 

I’ve also seen it with lemon zest or lemon juice added. I’ve always made it the way my mother-in-law did, but these additions work well.

Any leftover pasta should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It should keep for up to 2 days.

Not only is this pasta with broccoli rabe tasty but it is also really good for you and you can add as much broccoletti as you like, and topped with a nice helping of freshly grated parmesan cheese and dinner or lunch is served. Buon Appetito!

Pasta with broccoli rabe on a white plate.

More Quick Pasta Recipes

Reposted from January 20,2014.

Pasta with broccoli rabe on a white plate.

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe

Rosemary Molloy
Italian Broccoli Rabe Pasta is a quick, easy, healthy Italian Pasta Recipe.  Garlic, olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan make it perfect.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 165 kcal


  • 2 cups Broccoli Rabe (steamed or boiled until just tender)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1-2 dashes hot pepper flakes to taste
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups cooked pasta
  • salt to taste


  • In a large pot of boiling water cook broccoli rabe until tender*, remove from the pot and drain well, do not throw out the water, add salt, bring to a boil add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  • In a large frying pan add oil, garlic, cooked broccoli rabe* , salt (start with a 1/4 teaspoon) and hot pepper flakes to taste, combine with two forks smash down a bit on the broccoli rabe, heat thoroughly on medium/high heat for about a minute, immediately add the cooked pasta, 3-4 tablespoons of pasta water and cook on high heat tossing the pasta until liquid has almost completely evaporated approximately 20-30 seconds. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

*To clean broccoli rabe, leave the flower (unopened) and a small part of the stem and a couple of leafs (the tender parts of the vegetable) , boil in unsalted water for approximately 10 minutes (you want it tender but not mushy, if the stem gives when pinched it is done)


    Any leftover pasta should be stored in an airtight container for approximately 2-3 days. 


    Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 39mg | Vitamin A: 525IU | Vitamin C: 4.5mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 0.5mg
    Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

    Reposted from January 20,2014.


    1. 5 stars
      Love this! We make this at least once a week; a nice, quick, healthy dinner. We use anchovies in this as well, and use the oil that they’re packed in instead of just olive oil.

    2. 5 stars
      I love this Pasta dish. I use regular broccoli we get from an organic local farm. Sometimes I cheat and put the pasta in the pot with the broccoli and they both manage to cook perfectly at the same time. I do the same with cauliflower. Your recipes aee so yummy. They always take e back to my childhood.Thank you.

      1. Hi NJGIGI thanks so much, good idea with the broccoli. I love bringing back childhood memories. Have a great week.

    3. 5 stars
      My favorite! Especially with orecchiette! How lucky to have freshly picked broccoli rabe. I came home with 5 bunches the other day. I could honestly eat orecchiette con cime di rapa every single day. Thanks for sharing. Lovely ♥♥♥

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