Simple yet delicious 20-minute Broccoli Garlic Pasta is a quick family-friendly dinner made with broccoli, pasta, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Easy ingredients, quick preparation make this dish a wonderful side or a complete meatless meal. Or, add grilled chicken or shrimp for a heartier version.
I have been making this broccoli garlic pasta dish for probably more than 15 years. It's a no-fail, quick and delicious go-to dinner or side dish.
Broccoli garlic pasta is also great for when you're low on groceries or don't have the time nor energy to delve into a complicated, time consuming dinner.
It takes just minutes to prepare and only 15 minutes to cook. The best part? It's a one pot meal!
While it satisfies as a simple side dish or vegetarian, it can also be paired with baked or grilled chicken or steak
I make this broccoli garlic pasta shells recipe all of the time for my two children, one who loves broccoli and the other who doesn't. The broccoli can be chopped very small for kids who are less-than-reluctant to eat it on their own.
When I do this my broccoli-disliking babe barely realizes she's eating it, because, well..spasta!
When I asked her if it was good, her response was, "it wasn't good...it was GREAT!".
That's the thing about this quick and delicious broccoli garlic pasta, it is so easy but it will always turn out great. I bet if you make this just a few times, you won't even need to follow the recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Broccoli garlic pasta contains only 6 simple ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand.
- Chopped broccoli (fresh or frozen)
- Crushed garlic cloves
- Shell pasta (or other short pasta)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
You can use fresh or frozen broccoli. I always use fresh or fresh broccoli that I froze. I have never made this with broccoli that was purchased frozen, but I would plan to boil it for a little longer than the recipe states.
To crush garlic, I like using a mortar and pestle. Sprinkling salt on the garlic before crushing it will prevent it from flying out.
I like using shell pasta because my kids like it, but you can use any short pasta that you love. Bowties and wagon wheels are wonderful if you want to get and keep the kids interested in eating this meal.
And last for my ingredient suggestions is to add grilled chicken or shrimp if you don't want a meat-free meal or if you want to make this a complete hearty dinner and not a side dish.
It is incredibly easy to make this one-pot broccoli garlic pasta shells meal. Preparation requires just 2 things: cutting the broccoli and crushing the garlic.
Here are the steps to making it:
- Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into small pieces and crush the garlic.
- Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package, usually 8-13 minutes. When there are 7 minutes of cook time left, add the broccoli. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the oil in the pot and add the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Mix with the pasta/broccoli and toss with salt and pepper. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
To serve, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. For adults, you can also add some red pepper flakes to spice things up a bit.
That's it! The only thing left to do is enjoy!
Fresh broccoli should be boiled for 6-8 minutes. Frozen broccoli can be boiled for 8-9 minutes. You should not boil broccoli for longer than 9 minutes, otherwise it will turn to mush. Plus, the longer we boil or steam veggies for, the more key nutrients they lose.
Broccoli Garlic Pasta Shells with Olive Oil and Parmesan
- 12 oz shell pasta
- ½ head of fresh broccoli
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Parmesan for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package. Meanwhile, crush the garlic and chop the broccoli into small pieces. When there are 7 minutes of cook time left, add the chopped broccoli to the boiling pasta.
- Drain pasta and broccoli and set aside.
- Add oil to the pot and cook garlic on medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. Toss with the pasta, broccoli, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
How To Make It Kid-Friendly
This recipe is kid-friendly already, but you might have to change how you serve it to your different aged children.
For toddlers, try setting aside some plain pasta shells and broccoli prior to mixing them in with the garlic butter sauce. If your toddler prefers plain foods, this is the way to go.
Anytime I am unsure if my toddler will eat something new or saucy, I set aside the plain version. Then, I let her taste from my plate. If she likes my plate, great! If not, I feed her the set aside plain version of the meal.
For preschool aged kids, this meal served as intended should be perfectly fine! If not, the ingredients are easy to separate. So, if tonight's the night your 5 year old decides he no longer likes broccoli, you can easily take it out and he can have a nice garlic shells dinner.
If you made it and loved it, let me know in the comments!