Broccoli Pasta with a creamy Parmesan garlic sauce that is all cooked in one pot in less than 20 minutes might just be your new favorite dinner.
I have dinner covered! One Pot Creamy Parmesan Broccoli Pasta — it's so good and so easy. Plus my whole family loves it and happily gobbles up all the broccoli. We also love this One Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta and One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta.
One pot pasta dishes are all the rage and for good reason: Dinner is easy to get on the table and there's only one dirty pot. Talk about a no-brainer. Add to that awesomeness a dish that is made with lots of garlic, Parmesan cheese, and broccoli. While there are a lot of ways to make this dish to suit your own tastes, I've found that this one is a winner in my house.
The secret to making this one-pot pasta dish so creamy is using milk and vegetable broth as the cooking liquid. They combine with the natural starches in the pasta to create a perfect, creamy sauce that's packed with flavor. I like to add lots of black pepper and usually some fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, or rosemary to the final product. There you have it — so delicious and so easy! Who is going to make this tonight? Be sure to comment and let me know!
Recipe Ideas for Broccoli Pasta
How should you serve this dish? Let me count the ways:
- There's the "usual" way — over high fiber or whole wheat pasta. But feel free to use any pasta you like. Regular white pasta, quinoa, lentil, gluten-free...just about any pasta varieties are great with this dish. However, you may have to adjust the cooking time for alternative pasta since they cook slightly different than traditional pasta.
- Add some protein with sliced, grilled, roasted (or even leftover) chicken, salmon, shrimp, tofu, chickpeas, or any white bean you have on hand.
- I've been known to add a can of albacore tuna (or two) to this dish for a healthier tuna casserole.
- Make it spicy with some red pepper flakes. Saute them with the olive oil and garlic to get the most flavor.
- For a more indulgent dish, substitute the skim milk for half and half or canned evaporated skim milk.
- For a vegan version, swap the skim milk for a can of diced tomatoes and use nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese.
- Add extra veggies! We love stirring in a canned of drained diced Italian tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, spinach, or red peppers. For red peppers or fresh cherry tomatoes, saute them with the olive oil to soften them before cooking.
What Makes This Creamy Broccoli Pasta Healthy?
First of all, I eliminated heavy cream and butter that is the mark of most creamy sauces. Luckily, the ingredients that remain in this dish lend themselves to boosting the nutrient content as well. Meaning, less yuck, more good stuff for you.
- Olive oil is a good fat, meaning, it is made up of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), the kind that are considered heart-healthy. This good kind of fat is proven to help lower your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. MUFAs have also been shown to control your blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Garlic is known for its antioxidant properties (though not so much for its breath-freshening ones). It can help to lower your cholesterol and to regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- High fiber pasta can contain up to three times more fiber than its regular white counterpart. This is great news if you have trouble getting fiber by other means. It can keep you feeling fuller, longer and help to regulate your digestive system. High fiber pasta also contains roughly the same amount of protein as a whole grain pasta.
- Vegetable broth is low calorie, fat free, low sugar, and low carb. It contains vitamin A, potassium, iron, and calcium. It can be high in sodium, so be sure to make your own or purchase a low-sodium variety.
- Skim milk is a good source of calcium and protein without the extra milk fat solids found in other milk types. It is nutrient-dense without all the extra calories as well.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are full of fiber, protein, iron, folate, vitamins C and K, and potassium.
- Parmesan cheese is a low-calorie, low-carb, and low-fat hard cheese that contains protein and calcium. It can help strengthen your bones as well as provide your body with calcium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B6, and B12.
Can I use frozen broccoli?
If you only have frozen broccoli, it's a great option for this recipe. Since frozen broccoli tends to cook more quickly and I like my broccoli to be tender-crisp, I usually add it to the pasta with about 5 minutes left. However, you can add it early if you like your pasta more well done. A frozen broccoli and cauliflower blend would work as well.
Side Dishes to Broccoli Pasta
My favorite side dishes to serve with one-pot meals are the ones that are also easy to assemble and easy to clean up.
- Roasted (insert your favorite veggie here). Take any veggie (or a mixture of veggies), cut them as desired, and toss in olive oil, balsamic, and a little garlic salt. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them and how much you are roasting. Even though this dish already has broccoli, I love serving another veggie on the side, especially during cold months.
- Salads are great on the side, don't you think? Toss one together with whatever you have in your vegetable crisper. Add a light dressing. Skip the cheeses, nuts, croutons, and other high-calorie toppings you might be tempted to add to the salad to keep it light and healthy.
- Fruit salad is a great (but often overlooked) side. Who says fruit is only for breakfast? This is one of my kid's favorite side dishes.
- Serve this as a side dish instead of the main course. It pairs great with grilled or baked chicken (try this Parmesan Crusted Chicken), crispy tofu (like this Salt and Pepper Tofu), broiled salmon, or pork tenderloin.
One Pot Creamy Parmesan Broccoli Pasta
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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