This creamy broccoli pasta has become one of our go-to dinners when we need something quick but we’re craving something comforting. From start to finish, it takes about 30 minutes. All you need to do is boil the pasta, blend together the sauce, sauté onion and broccoli, and toss it all together. Then, you can sit down to devour warms bowls of broccoli pasta with creamy sauce on top. While this sauce looks like a rich cream or cheese sauce, it’s actually a tangy, luscious blend of white beans, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. So this recipe is not only quick & comforting, but healthy, too!
One thing about this broccoli pasta recipe – it’s not mac & cheese. I know it looks cheesy and there’s an option below to use Parmesan cheese if you don’t want to use nutritional yeast, but this sauce isn’t meant to recreate cheese (head over here if that’s what you’re looking for). It’s lusciously bean-y, a little tangy, super homey, and delicious in its own way.
Broccoli Pasta Recipe Ingredients
I first made this recipe when I brought this beautiful broccoli home from the farmers market a few weeks ago. Using it as my inspiration, I turned to my pantry to make the broccoli – stems, leaves, and all! – into a full meal. As a result, this recipe’s ingredients are really simple. You likely have most of them on hand! Here’s what you need:
- Pasta. I used small shell pasta, but use what you have on hand. Orecchiette, bow ties, or rigatoni would all be great.
- Onion adds extra veggie power and depth of flavor to this simple recipe.
- Pine nuts give it some crunch!
- White beans make the creamy base of the sauce.
- Vegetable broth (and pasta cooking water, if you like) loosen the sauce as needed.
- Lemon juice makes the sauce bright & tangy!
- Olive oil adds richness.
- Nutritional yeast (or cheese) fills the sauce with yummy cheesy, umami flavor.
- Garlic & onion powder give it depth of flavor.
- And salt & pepper tie it all together!
I serve this the way I serve most saucy pastas – mix most of the sauce into the pan with the broccoli and the shells, and reserve the remaining sauce to spoon on top of the portioned bowls. Along with the pine nuts, a few red pepper flakes would be a great finishing touch.
If you love this broccoli pasta recipe…
- 2½ cups small shell pasta
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cups broccoli florets, chopped stems, and leaves (keep stems separate)
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- lemon wedges, for serving
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup vegetable broth, more as needed
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast*
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Make the sauce: In a blender, combine the white beans, broth, lemon juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped broccoli stems and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add the broccoli florets and leaves and a splash of water or vegetable broth. Cover and turn off the heat.
- Allow the broccoli to steam for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender but still bright green. Add the pasta, then stir in ¾ of the sauce, adding more broth if the sauce is too dry.
- Season to taste with more salt, pepper and lemon juice, as desired, and portion into bowls. Divide the remaining sauce onto each bowl. Top with the pine nuts and serve with lemon wedges on the side.