Does Broccoli Go with Spaghetti?

This is a bowl of pesto spaghetti with broccoli.

Perhaps you’ve been told to increase your servings of healthy vegetables to get more fiber and nutrients in your diet, and broccoli was one of the top contenders. Broccoli sometimes has a bad reputation taste-wise, which leaves people wondering if broccoli goes with much-loved family favorites like spaghetti. 

I’m a huge fan of cooking pasta and broccoli, and I’ve found that it is a very versatile vegetable that lends itself to Italian-style cooking.

Broccoli is a vegetable that is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. When cooked correctly, broccoli is flavorful and high in fiber and makes an excellent addition to sauces used for pasta like spaghetti.

In Italian cooking, pasta con broccoli is traditional, healthy comfort food that is easy to make.

Perhaps you’ve always hated the taste of broccoli—memories of soggy, limp overcooked childhood meals can leave you thinking that you’d rather eat your spaghetti plain than add broccoli to it. Broccoli is a gem of a vegetable, jam-packed with all kinds of essential nutrients and boasting a high fiber content. 

If you want to start eating broccoli for health reasons, there are ways of making it taste far better than you can imagine, and I’ll share recipes that will have you a broccoli and pasta addict in no time.

Does Broccoli Go with Spaghetti?

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable from the same family as cabbages and cauliflowers. One of the best-recommended vegetables is broccoli because it is a green cruciferous vegetable that packs a nutrient-rich punch. It comes originally from Italy, which may be why it goes so well with pasta.

Italians have been growing and eating broccoli since as early as the sixth century B.C., so they’ve had plenty of time to work out how to make this nutritious vegetable taste great.

Broccoli is often recommended to patients with Diabetes Type 2 because the high fiber content helps with the insulin response that triggers blood sugar imbalances and fat-synthesis. This cruciferous vegetable can help prevent some intestinal and stomach cancers, thanks to its high concentration of glucosinolates.

However, the method of cooking your broccoli affects how its tastes and its level of cancer-fighting nutrients. That’s why shorter, dryer cooking periods like steaming, stir-frying, or microwaving are better for your broccoli.

Not only does boiling broccoli for 30 minutes reduce total glucosinolate by up to 77%—who wants to eat a pile of mushy over-boiled broccoli anyway!

Luckily for us, broccoli pairs wonderfully with pasta like spaghetti. Rather than serving up some limp, sadly overcooked broccoli next to equally overcooked meat, add your broccoli to pasta sauces and serve over spaghetti.

The shorter cooking time will prevent excessive nutrient loss, and by pairing it with the right ingredients, you will make a pasta dish that tickles your taste buds and provides you with a healthy diet.

What Goes Well with Broccoli?

Broccoli will taste its best when paired with flavors that go well with it. You can follow well-known Italian recipes, but once you know what other products go well with broccoli, you can experiment with making your own sauces.

You will find that some tastes play well with the slight bitterness of broccoli. Sauces for pasta can be tomato or cream-based, and these will call for different ingredients. There are pasta dishes that cook the broccoli with the pasta to create a sauce that uses no cream.

Depending on your dietary needs, you will find vegetarian broccoli dishes and ones that incorporate meat or seafood.

Certain foods are often staples in Italian cooking, and you will usually find several of these making appearances in your different broccoli and pasta dishes.

Vegetables that Pair Well with Broccoli

  • Bell peppers, like red, green, or yellow pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions, shallots, scallions, leeks

Herbs and Spices that Pair Well with Broccoli

  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro/coriander
  • Ginger
  • Garlic

Meat, Dairy, and Nuts that Pair Well with Broccoli

  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Parmesan/pecorino cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Beef
  • Bacon
  • Anchovies
  • Pine nuts
  • Almonds

Best Tasting Broccoli

You may be surprised to discover there are many different types of broccolis, and not all of them will taste the same. Some recipes will call for different varieties, but usually, the common Calabrese will do. 

The type of broccoli seen in most U.S. supermarkets is a bright green vegetable with a thick stalk and a tightly packed head, usually Calabrese broccoli.

If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter alternative, you could try cooking with Chinese broccoli, known as gai lan or kai lan. Gai lan does not resemble Italian-style broccoli—it looks more like thick-stemmed kale with small flower buds.

Chinese broccoli has been crossed with Calabrese to create a variety called Broccolini. Broccolini is also sweeter than regular broccoli. It’s easy to tell the difference from Calabrese broccoli as Broccolini has longer, thinner stems, and the flower head is smaller.

For more authentic Italian flavors with a rich earthiness, choose Romanesco broccoli with its distinctive spiky-looking spiral florets.

You may even decide to grow your harder-to-source broccoli and choose to plant one of the purple varieties like Heirloom Purple Sprouting.

Click here for more: Does Broccoli Go with Pasta | Does Broccoli Go With Lasagne | Varieties of Pasta | What Cheese Goes with Broccoli | Types of Broccoli

Spaghetti Recipes with Broccoli

Here’s an easy to follow and simple to make spaghetti and broccoli recipe to get you started:

This flavorful recipe features anchovies, Parmesan and garlic is a lovely, simple dish that you will find nutritious and comforting. If you don’t like to use chilies in your cooking, omit them, or cut down the amount.

It will take you barely 5 minutes to prepare the ingredients and approximately 15-20 minutes to cook:

You will need:

  • 400g uncooked spaghetti
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 ½ cups Broccolini or similar
  • 2 tins of anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh red chilies, de-seeded and finely chopped (If you prefer no heat, leave these out)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • A small handful of fresh basil leaves, ripped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Instructions:

  • Cook and drain the spaghetti as per the packet instructions. Reserve a little of the cooking water for the sauce
  • Heat your extra virgin olive oil in a large pan and add the garlic, chilies, the chopped anchovy fillets, and your broccoli or Broccolini.
  • Sauté these ingredients over medium heat for a few minutes until the garlic softens, and the broccoli is cooked through.
  • Add your Parmesan and cooked spaghetti to the pan, and toss through, adding reserved cooking water if necessary.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Dish up and add your ripped basil leaves and chopped parsley for garnish.

This dish serves four and is best served and eaten immediately.

If you enjoyed that and are looking for more ways to serve your broccoli with spaghetti, AllRecipes.com has a huge selection ranging in ingredients and difficulty level.

Conclusion

Since Roman times, broccoli has been a part of the Italian diet, so it’s no surprise that Italian cuisine boasts many pasta recipes featuring this healthy vegetable. Different varieties will have different taste profiles, and some are more bitter and earthy, while others are sweeter.

When cooked with the right ingredients, broccoli goes very well with spaghetti, and there are a wide variety of pasta recipes incorporating nutrient-packed broccoli.

Sources:

Warwick News and Events: Research Says Boiling Broccoli Ruins Its Anti Cancer Properties

Gardener’s Path: Best Broccoli Varieties

All Recipes: Recipes for Broccoli Spaghetti

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