Spaghetti Rigati with Broccoli Crema

Pasta with broccoli was a favorite in my house growing up, and remains to be a favorite for my children now. I posted the recipe for the original Pasta with Broccoli a little while ago, but I had recently seen many Italian food bloggers sharing a similar recipe with a broccoli crema – cream. I was surprised to find out that this luxe looking “cream” was really just overcooked broccoli purred with some olive oil!

When I was working on the recipe that taste from the broccoli and the olive oil came through, but it felt like it wasn’t finished without a bit of texture. I sautéed breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in some extra virgin olive oil and it gave the dish the crunch it really needed. I hope you try this spin on the classic – also not a bad way to hide all that broccoli from your kids!

Pasta with Broccoli

  • Difficulty: easy
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    For the Pasta

  • 1 lb spaghetti rigati (or other long pasta)
  • 12 oz broccoli florets (prewashed and bagged, or from 1 large head of broccoli)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Toasted Breadcrumbs:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta and broccoli. Salt generously.
  2. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook it until it almost seems overdone – about 10 minutes. Remove the broccoli using a fine mesh sieve and set aside, without turning off the heat.
  3. Allow the water from the broccoli to return a boil and cook the spaghetti in it.
  4. While the pasta cooks, add the broccoli to a blender with one teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and blend until completely smooth. Add the crema to a large frying pan. When the spaghetti has been cooking for 7-8 minutes, remove it from the pot and add it to the crema and cook over low heat. Add a ladleful of pasta water (about 1/2 cup) and toss with the pasta. When the water has absorbed, test the spaghetti to ensure it is done to your liking. For a softer texture, add another 1/2 cup of pasta water and cook until absorbed, tossing frequently.
  5. Meanwhile, add olive oil, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese to a small saucepan or frying pan. Toss the ingredients together over low heat for just about 2-3 minutes, until toasted.
  6. Plate pasta and sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs on top. Enjoy immediately.

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