Cavatelli and Broccoli is a classic Italian dish that is super tasty and nutritious. Plus, it's one of the best comfort dishes around that you can make in 30 minutes or less!
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this recipe
Cavatelli and Broccoli will surprise you with how complex the flavors are. The combination of broccoli with smokey bacon, garlic and parmesan is a burst of savory goodness in your mouth.
With this recipe, you'll have the whole family eating lots of broccoli and loving it because it's so tasty. Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli is another dish your family will enjoy!
The best part is that Cavatelli and Broccoli is so quick to make. It's faster to make this pasta than ordering take out and everyone is happy! Store bought pasta is perfectly fine but it's not hard to make your own homemade cavatelli or try making your own ricotta cavatelli.
If you have more time, serve Cavatelli and Broccoli with my butterfly chicken recipe, your family will love it as much as mine does.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
Along with the usual Italian pasta ingredients, for Cavatelli and Broccoli you'll need:
- broccoli - lots of it - 2 big heads
- bacon lardons - which gives amazing flavor and smokiness
- cavatelli - homemade or store bought
- red pepper (chilli) flakes - this is optional
- cauliflower can be substituted for part or all of the broccoli for a different flavor. Also make my amazing instant pot cauliflower as a side dish to serve.
- instead of bacon lardons, I like to use smoked Italian pancetta (if available)
- for a vegetarian version of cavatelli and broccoli, leave out the bacon
- add pitted black olives
- use pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan
Begin by putting a large pot of salted water on to boil.
- In a skillet or frying pan, gently cook the bacon lardons adding the garlic and red pepper (chilli) flakes, (if using) at the end.
- In the meantime, add the broccoli in the boiling water until just tender. Then add to pan with bacon.
- Keep the water boiling and cook the pasta in it. Once cooked, strain (reserving a little cooking water) and add to the bacon and broccoli.
- Toss gently to combine adding Parmesan, reserved pasta water and extra virgin olive oil.
Serve with a bowl of crunchy pangrattato and extra Parmesan cheese so that everyone can help themselves to what they like.
Tips for success and FAQ's
Bringing a large pot of water to the boil can take time. Speed this up by pouring a kettle full of boiling water into the pot. Top up with more hot water as needed and you'll have boiling water in just a few minutes.
Broccoli for this pasta dish needs to be tender. Piece the stalk with a fork to check for doneness. Remember that it will keep cooking so don't take it too far. However, I do love when some of the broccoli softens and melts into the sauce.
Yes, however since frozen broccoli is generally precooked, it only needs heating. Therefore, just cook for around 2 minutes in the boiling water before removing with a slotted spoon.
Lardons are cut from a slab of bacon into short, batons.
This pancetta is flat as opposed to rolled. It has an intense flavor and fat content which add fantastic flavor to this Cavatelli and Broccoli pasta dish. However, it is not always readily available.
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This updated recipe was first published on April 18, 2010.
Cavatelli and Broccoli Recipe
- 2 heads broccoli
- 3 oz (85 grams) bacon lardons or smoked Italian pancetta (see notes)
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound (450 grams) cavatelli pasta store bought or homemade
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Begin by place a large pot of well salted water on to boil.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice garlic. Cut stalks from the broccoli, peel, then cut into thin slices. Cut the broccoli heads into small florets.
- Place the bacon lardons and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in large, cold frying pan. Set it over low/medium heat. As the pan heats up the fat in the bacon will start to melt and release all it's flavor. Continue cooking the bacon for 3-4 minutes or until browned and become a little crispy and the fat is rendering.
- In the meantime, add florets and stalk slices to boiling water and cook for 3 minutes or until the stalks are just tender but still firm. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a colander. Keep water boiling.
- Add cavatelli to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain cavatelli, reserving ½ cup cooking water.
- Add the sliced garlic to the bacon. Cook, stirring for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the red pepper (chilli) flakes and broccoli. Stir over heat for a minute or two. If the pasta isn't ready, turn the heat off until you add the cavatelli to avoid overcooking the broccoli.
- Add cavatelli, Parmesan, reserved cooking water and remaining extra virgin olive to the pan. Toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust with a little more salt, if needed.
- Pile into a serving bowl and sprinkle with extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
- Use lots of water to boil the cavatelli. Add the salt when the water comes to the boil and never add oil to the water to cook pasta.
- Be sure that the broccoli cook until tender but not over cook. Some broccoli softening and melting into the sauce is good though
Nutritional Estimate Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.