If you’re into pasta that’s ever-so-lightly coated in a garlicky, spicy, slightly creamy, and totally cheese sauce (And did I mention it’s packed with veggies?), then you will be very into our Cavatelli and Broccoli. This super easy minimal-ingredient pasta is perfect for busy weeknights, and is also a great way to get your kiddos to eat their veggies.
Cavatelli and Broccoli
Even though I love an extravagant, rich pasta, give me a simple bowl of Cavatelli and Broccoli, and I’m a seriously happy person. This easy, classic Italian pasta also commonly known on restaurant menus as Cavatelli con Broccoli is light, slightly spicy, and perfectly sauced.
Here’s the rundown:
We sauté broccoli florets with olive oil and LOTS of garlic – seven cloves to be exact – until bright green and then cook it a little bit more with white wine and chicken stock.
The tender, but still crisp broccoli gets tossed with perfectly aldente Cavatelli noodles, a VERY generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese, salty pasta water, and red pepper flakes for a kick, if you’re into that.
What results is a slightly creamy, but healthy super light pasta that’s coated in juuuust the right amount of sauce, a hint of spice, and of course, plenty of garlicky broccoli.
Bonus? It’s also lovely served as pasta salad the next day.
What is Cavatelli?
Is you’re not familiar with this fun pasta shape, let’s talk about it. You can find Cavatelli two ways -first dried, similar to other pastas, and second, fresh and more dumpling-like in texture. For this recipe we’re going with the former for simplicity reasons. If you want to make your own Cavatelli, I’m working on a recipe for that and will have in the near future!
Classic Cavatelli are made with only eggs, flour, and a little bit of water, so they are more dumpling-like in texture than a typical pasta. They’re quite adorable.
Ingredients in Broccoli and Cavatelli
Olive oil. Classic Broccoli and Cavatelli uses olive oil, but you can also use butter if that’s all you have on hand.
Broccoli. This is not the time to use frozen broccoli, fresh broccoli is where its at. You can either buy a whole head of broccoli and make florets yourself or buy pre-packaged broccoli florets. I go for the latter, because I’m lazy.
Garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. We use seven cloves. You can either slice the cloves super thin, or minced them.
Cavatelli. It’s can be sort of difficult to find Cavatelli, but I found mine at Whole Foods. If you’re local grocery store doesn’t have it, you can swap our orecchiette.
White wine. Use a dry white wine, or even sparking wine.
Chicken stock. As always, you want to use low-sodium chicken stock so you can control the amount of salt in the dish.
Pasta water. Pasta water is the key to our Cavatelli and Broccoli, along with the chicken stock and white wine, it creates the creamy sauce that laces the Cavatelli noodles.
Parmesan. Whenever I say parmesan cheese, I always mean parmigiano reggiano. I usually grate it myself, but these days grocery stores will usually do that for you. It’s the only pre-grated cheese I approve you to use, and make sure it’s FRESHLY grated by the grocery store and doesn’t have any extra preservatives.
Red pepper flakes. I usually add the red pepper flakes at the end after scooping out portions for my kiddos – like most children, they aren’t in to any excess spice, but I am.
Let’s make Cavatelli and Broccoli
Making Cavatelli and Broccoli is as easy as: 1, 2, 3.
1. Sauté the broccoli. Sauté the broccoli with olive oil and garlic for a few minutes until bright green. Add white wine, reduce. Add chicken stock, cover and keep the broccoli on low while the pasta cooks.
2. Cook the pasta. Drop the pasta in boiling, salted water, until just under aldente.
3. Toss everything. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to pan with the broccoli, garlic, and chicken stock. Add some pasta water, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes. Toss until the cheese melts. If you need to, add more pasta water.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Even though cavatelli and broccoli is the namesake of this recipe, if you can’t find cavatelli, no problem, you can swap it out for orecchiette if you can’t find it.
- If you don’t drink or cook with wine, you can use all chicken stock
- Don’t overcook the broccoli! You want it to be slightly soft, but still firm with a bite to it.
- Add in more veggies! The more, the merrier. You could even cut back on the pasta and double up on the broccoli to get a higher vegetable to pasta ratio.
- Try grated in a little bit of fresh lemon zest just before tossing everything together.
What to serve with Cavatelli and Broccoli
- If you’re serving cavatelli and broccoli in the summertime, I’d suggest pairing it with our favorite Burrata Panzanella or this Peach and Tomato Caprese Salad. Effortless and so darn pretty.
- I don’t know about you, but my family needs garlic bread with their pasta, and our Roasted Garlic Cheesy Bread is the ultimate! It’s packed with sweet roasted garlic, butter, and plenty of gooey mozzarella.
- For an all-year-round salad, try our Everyday Kale and Brussels Sprout. Light, sweet, tangy, and so delicious.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 oz broccoli florets
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- 7 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 3/4 lb dried cavatelli
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- red pepper flakes
- Large skillet
- stock pot
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with salt. It should taste almost as salty as sea water.
- Heat a large saute pan over a medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the broccoli and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute 3-4 minutes and then add garlic. Continue to saute for 1 minute.
- Drop pasta into water. Stir. Cook until aldente, about 10 minutes.
- While the pasta cooks, add wine to broccoli and garlic. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on low while the pasta cooks. If the broccoli starts too get soft, remove from the heat. You want the broccoli to be soft, but still have a bite.
- Once the pasta is aldente, use a sieve or slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the broccoli, wine and chicken stock. Toss pasta with sauce and broccoli. Reserve pasta water.
- Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top of the pasta along with red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, and remaining salt. Toss until coated. You should have a very light creamy sauce. If it seems dry, add a little bit of pasta water at a time until you reach desired consistency. Add more cheese if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.