Meatless Monday: Broccoli Cavatelli

Broccoli cavatelli (or with any other pasta shapes) is a favorite staple in our house.  We love how it tastes and with some sprinkle of pecorino Romano or parmigiano-reggiano, this simple dish becomes positively divine.

Before I get into the very simple recipe, I want to talk about the type of pasta I use.

I used to make this dish with regular dried pasta, usually farfalle (bow-ties) campanelle (little bells), or cavatappi/cellentani (corkscrews) because I could never find cavatelli pasta in the supermarket.  Shame on me, I only discovered about 3 years ago that cavatelli is sold either fresh at a local Italian deli or frozen in a regular supermarket.  I think there are dry versions, but I have yet to find any.

Either way, while pasta of any shape with broccoli sautéed with garlic is delicious, there is something about cavatelli that turns the dish into a succulent and more a “meaty” dish.  I don’t know if it’s the shape or fresh/frozen factor.  Which is why, I tend to use cavatelli when I’m going meatless.

This dish can’t get any more simple and easy, using just 4 essential ingredients. Broccoli, garlic, pasta and extra virgin olive oil. Oh, and some salt and pepper.Unlike some other broccoli cavatelli recipes, I skip the crushed red peppers because of the kids. I replace the chicken broth with reserved pasta water. I use a lot of broccoli, 3 large bunches of broccoli, including the stems and I chopped them up a little smaller.


I use a lot of garlic. Some recipes calls for 3 or 4 heads. I take 6 to 8 cloves of crushed and minced garlic.


I saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant and just slightly golden. A hint to make clean up easier, I boil the broccoli first, pasta next and then use the same pot to saute the garlic before throwing everything back together. That’s why you see a little bit of broccoli with the garlic in the photo below.


The final product with some yummy cheese on top.


This one is from last year, the first time I tried to write up the recipe and just plain forgot to do it.  As you can see from the two photos, because I give my  broccoli a few chops before adding them to the garlic, there is a more blended effect.  There’s broccoli bits coating the pasta and that’s what my family loves.


Broccoli Cavatelli

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4


3 large bunch of broccoli, head cut to smaller florets, stem peeled and cut into smaller pieces
1 pound fresh or frozen cavatelli
6 to 8 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 cups reserved pasta water
salt and pepper
grated pecorino romano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese, optional
fresh chopped parsley, optional garnish


In a large pot, bring lightly salted water to boil. Boil broccoli until just past al dente but still firm, remove from the pot, drain and set a side. In the same water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water before draining the pasta.

Dry the pot before adding 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant and it starts turning lightly golden. Add broccoli and saute until thoroughly mixed. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta and 1 cup of reserved pasta water and cook until the water is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup to 1 cup if more liquid is needed and cook until the pasta and broccoli is tender.

If using cheese, add cheese to taste and mix before serving. Sprinkle a little more for garnish. If not using cheese, just serve immediately with or without fresh chopped parsley.



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