Orecchiette with Broccoli (Orecchiette con Broccoli)

This orecchiette with broccoli recipe (orecchiette con broccoli) makes a super creamy sauce and comes together in less than 30 minutes. This dish is originally from Puglia, Italy.

The region of Puglia is in southern Italy and occupies the heel of the boot. It's famous for delicious seafood, especially clams and mussels. It’s also well known for cheese, bread, and olive oil. Puglia is truly a food paradise, especially Salento!

We recommend the Turi extra virgin olive oil for this recipe because it pairs well with vegetables and fish. The anchovies in this recipe are optional.

Where is Orecchiette with Broccoli from?

The origin of the pasta shape orecchiette lies in Puglia and Basilicata. Many believe it was brought to the area during the dynasty of Angioini between the 12th and 13th centuries. However, there’s another theory that the origin of the pasta lies in the reign of Normanno-Sveva between the 12th and 13th centuries.

Bari, a city in Puglia, is very famous for orecchiette. Look online, or better yet go visit, and you’ll see older women on the streets and in tiny shops making and selling their pasta. Here’s a video by Pasta Grannies showing how they make it by hand in Bari!

In Bari, locals often cook orecchiette with cime di rapa (broccoli rabe), cavolfiore (cauliflower), broccoli, or other vegetables. There’s also a dish made with orecchiette and a red ragù.

There are two types of orecchiette, large and small. They use the large for vegetables and the small for ragĂš. We prefer orecchiette with vegetables or seafood.

orecchiette-with-broccoli

What Does Orecchiette Mean?

Orecchiette means 'little ear' in Italian.

Pasta With Broccoli (and other ‘vegetable sauces’)

Italians have perfected the ‘vegetable sauce’ and orecchiette with broccoli is the perfect example. There’s a misconception that Italians only eat pasta. While they do eat a lot of pasta they also eat a ton of vegetables.

In fact, veggies are the foundation of many Italian dishes. This pasta recipe is so good you'll be tricked into thinking it’s ‘just a carb’. If you or your kids have an aversion to green veggies try this this orecchiette with broccoli recipe and let us know the results!

You can also make this recipe with other vegetables. However, that comes with a warning. Be intentional about the vegetables you use. Sometimes we throw everything from the vegetable drawer in the pot. Unfortunately, this does not respect the vegetable as a food with its own flavor profile. If you have a head of cauliflower that is enough. Let that cauliflower have her moment.

No matter the vegetable it’s going to need a bit of help in order to truly *shine* and become an extra creamy sauce. This is where a high-quality olive oil steps in.

A vegetable on its own is good, a vegetable with incredible extra virgin olive oil is extraordinary. Great olive oil helps food develop flavor. It’s what makes a soffritto butter sweet, melt in the mouth and a pasta aglio e olio become a real dish even though it only has 2 ingredients. The oil matters.

How To Make Orecchiette with Broccoli

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then salt the water and make sure it’s well-seasoned. Chop the trunks into small chunks and gently separate the broccoli florets. Don’t make them too small or you’ll lose the florets in the water. Boil the broccoli for about 10 minutes, it should be slightly soft but not done yet.

While waiting for the broccoli to cook, heat a medium pan on medium-low heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and optional anchovy. Cook until the anchovy has melted and the garlic is golden. Remove from heat.

Add the pasta to the broccoli water and cook until a few minutes before ‘al dente’. Add a ladle of pasta water to the pan and turn onto high heat. Once its boiling use a slotted spoon to add the orecchiette and broccoli to the pan. If this is too messy reserve 1 cup pasta water then strain the orecchiette and broccoli and add to pan.

Stir continuously and add a bit of water each time things look dry. Cook for the additional few minutes. Add freshly cracked pepper. Then cut the heat, add parmigiano, and serve!

Side note, if you’re adding anchovy don’t add the cheese.

You May Also Like…

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil (Pasta Aglio e Olio)

Pasta With Tomato Sauce Recipe (Pasta al Pomodoro 2.0)

Fettuccine with Porcini Mushrooms (Fettuccine ai Funghi Porcini)

If you make this orecchiette with broccoli, please leave a comment and give this recipe a rating! We love to hear from you and do respond to comments. And if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and Facebook and use #EXAUoliveoil so we can repost!

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