You'll love this simple broccoli pasta, prepared Mediterranean-style with hearty white beans, tossed in a light olive oil sauce with garlic, onions, and oregano. A good handful of fresh parsley and freshly grated Paremsan cheese finish this light and flavorful pasta dinner.
Use whole wheat pasta if you're after Mediterranean diet meals.
Pasta night is a big deal at my house, and if it were up to my girls, every night would be pasta night!
Some favorites include this Mediterranean olive oil pasta; turkey lasagna soup; or whatever kind of pasta tossed with a bit of my easy bolognese. On special occasions, when we're really feeling comfort food, we go for Greek Pastitsio
This simple and light bean and broccoli pasta is the latest addition, and the family completely approves!
This broccoli pasta is my kinda of no-fuss dinner. It uses such simple ingredients--pasta, beans, and broccoli--and in place of the usual sauce, a little Greek extra virgin olive oil.
But as simple and light as this pasta and broccoli recipe is, it hits all the right flavor notes for me--thanks to a few flavor makers, including garlic, oregano, za'atar, and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.
Let me tell you more about it...
Bean and Broccoli Pasta with a Mediterranean Twist!
Three star ingredients make this simple vegetarian pasta dinner: pasta, broccoli, and white beans.
Pasta sauce? Not this time. Here we rely on quality extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek EVOO) to make a light sauce with a bit of onions and fresh minced garlic. A few flavor makers complete this dish.
Really, once you've added things like garlic, onion, oregano (ooh, and za'atar), plus, fresh parsley, and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan, you have yourself a light and tasty broccoli pasta that's bursting with flavor. You won't miss the sauce, I promise!
Ingredients for this Pasta and Broccoli:
Here's what you'll need to make this broccoli white bean pasta...
- Pasta: A smaller cut of pasta works well here. I used elbow macaroni, but any short cut pasta will work. And if you're following a strict Mediterranean diet, be sure to use whole wheat pasta.
- Broccoli: For a shortcut here, I use frozen broccoli, but make sure it is fully thawed. Since, before it is frozen, broccoli is typically blanched in boiling water, it is already precooked and ready to use. But you can use fresh broccoli as well in this recipe (I'll share more about how to use it later.)
- White beans: The beans here are my way of sneaking in a bit of plant-based protein. They really augment this pasta dish, making it more hearty and satisfying. You can use any white beans you like. I typically use cannellini beans, which are of Italian origin. I love their fluffy, creamy texture and slight nutty flavor here.
- Light sauce with extra virgin olive oil: The start of the sauce is extra virgin olive oil with a bit of onions that are cooked till fragrant and translucent. From there, we add fresh minced garlic along with oregano, a little Aleppo pepper (a warm, sweeter pepper), and a pinch of red pepper flakes for subtle heat.
- A few finishing touches: To me this pasta and broccoli dinner is complete with a few important finishing touches--chopped fresh parsley, a big pinch of za'atar (which is a favorite Mediterranean mixture of wild thyme and toasted sesame seeds), and, of course, a good sprinkle of grated Parmesan. Toasted pine nuts are added for flavor and texture. If you don't have them, you can use toasted slivered almonds instead.
How to Make this Pasta and Broccoli Recipe
This broccoli pasta takes a few easy steps to make, and they begin with cooking the pasta. Here is how to make it:
1. Cook the pasta in boiling water with a pinch of salt till al dente (about 9 minutes or so). Drain, but keep about 1 cup of the pasta water.
2. Make the olive oil-based sauce. Heat extra virgin olive oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add in the onions and cook till nice and translucent. From there, amp up the flavor! Add garlic, oregano, Aleppo pepper, and crushed pepper flakes. Stir till fragrant.
3. Add in broccoli and white beans. Throw thawed broccoli in the sauce, and toss around for a few minutes (about 4 minutes or so.) Add in the white beans to warm up for about 3 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the cooked pasta with a bit of pasta cooking water. It's all coming together at this point! Add cooked pasta and about ⅓ cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss well to combine everything together.
5. Add the final flavor makers! Add a good pinch of za'atar, fresh parsley, and grated Parmesan. Toss to make sure all is well combined and pasta is well-coated (you may need to add a little bit more of the pasta water or maybe a drizzle more extra virgin olive oil to help the pasta take on the flavors!) Test and adjust seasoning to your liking.
6. Serve! Transfer to pasta bowls and, if you like, add some toasted pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds. Always a good idea to have a bit of crushed peppers and grated Parmesan cheese on the side for everyone to add as needed. Enjoy!
Darn! This humble broccoli pasta is sounding so grand right now, eh?
How to cook broccoli for pasta?
I used frozen broccoli in this recipe, as you see. But you can absolutely use fresh broccoli in this recipe, and you'll be able to cook it right with the pasta in the cooking water! Here is what you do to cook it:
1. Trim the broccoli and cut into florets.
2. If you like your broccoli more on the done side, cook it along with the pasta at the same time (the entire 9 minutes or so that the pasta cooks).
3. If you like your broccoli to soften just a bit but still keep it's bite, then a quick blanch in the pasta water should be enough. Add the broccoli florets to the cooking pasta water during the last minute or 2 of cooking. When pasta is ready, drain both the pasta and broccoli together in a colander and follow the recipe from there.
What to Serve Along?
This broccoli pasta makes a great meatless dinner for 4, or you can serve smaller portions for lunch. I always like to add a bright salad next to my pasta dinners. You'll find lots of salad ideas here.
Love broccoli? And if you love broccoli, try this amazing crispy oven roasted broccoli!
Browse our vegetarian recipes collection for more meatless ideas! For all recipes, visit us here. And be sure to view our collection of Mediterranean diet recipes.
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Mediterranean Broccoli Pasta with White Beans
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: serves 6
Simple, hearty Mediterranean bean and broccoli pasta, tossed in a light olive oil sauce, and flavored with a few spices and herbs including oregano and fresh parsley. A sprinkle of grated Parmesan and some toasted pine nuts seal the deal!
- ¾ lb elbow macaroni, whole wheat if possible
- ¼ cup Private Reserve Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp Aleppo pepper
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper, more if you like spicy
- 1 lb frozen broccoli florets, thawed (see notes for using fresh broccoli)
- 1 can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 ½ tsp Za'atar spice blend, more for later
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package until al dante. I like to add a little olive oil to the cooking water. Before you drain pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water for later.
- In a large pot, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add chopped onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly, until translucent. Add garlic, oregano, Aleppo pepper, and crushed pepper flakes. Stir till fragrant.
- Now add thawed broccoli florets. Cook 4 minutes, tossing regularly. Add cannellini beans. And season with salt and pepper. Cook another 3 minutes or so, tossing regularly.
- Add the cooked pasta and about ⅓ cup of the reserved cooking water into the pot. Add fresh parsley, za'atar spice, and Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine. If you need to, add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water to help combine everything. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook until everything is very well warmed through.
- Transfer to serving bowls. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts, more za'atar spice, and more crushed red pepper flakes on top. Enjoy!
- Cook's Tip: Use whole wheat pasta if you're following a strict Mediterranean diet.
- Cook's Tip: This recipe serves 4 people for a vegetarian dinner. You can serve smaller portions for lunch (up to 6.)
- Cook's Tip for Using Fresh Broccoli: If you are using fresh broccoli, cut it into small florets and cook them right in the pasta water. If you like your broccoli more on the done side, cook it along with the pasta at the same time (the entire 9 minutes or so that the pasta cooks). Or, for a quick blanch, just enough to soften the broccoli, add the broccoli florets to the cooking pasta water during the last 1 minute of cooking. When pasta is ready, drain both the pasta and broccoli together in a colander.
- What to Serve Along? I typically stick to a simple salad. Browse salad ideas here.
- Recommended for this recipe: Private Reserve Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives). And from our all-natural spice collection: Aleppo-style pepper and za'atar.
- Visit our Online Shop to browse our collection of olive oils, spices, and more ingredients for Mediterranean cooking!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: Entree
- Method: Stove-top
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: broccoli pasta, pasta and broccoli recipe, broccoli white bean pasta
*This post recently appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in February 2018 and has been recently updated with new information for readers' benefit.
We loved this! I chose to top mine with some feta cheese. We also thought that this would make a great summer salad with some fresh additions. So many possibilities! Thank you so much!
I love this recipe , my mom always make this recipe for my six children , she would make cavatelli pasta from scratch, your ingredients are just the same as my moms, and i am gonna send your recipe to my four daughters and two sons who also love to cook, they all miss their Nonna making this recipe and they will truly enjoy it, now i got to make this for my 10 grandchildren , i will print your recipe for each of my children to keep, i was so happy to make your mediterranean broccoli pasta with white beans and our family enjoy it , Thank you
We love hearing this, Alfonsina!
Another winner! The za'atar+parmesan+pine nut topping is amazing. Kept going back for more. My four year old loved it. I doubled the beans for more protein, but would taste just as good as-is, of course. Didn't have fresh parsley, still tasted good but looking forward to trying it with that addition! Will be making this regularly. Thank you for these recipes 🙂
This was a great quick meal. Very good, great flavor. I finally got to use my Zatare!
Hi Suzy, I want to try this tonight. I was wondering if I can use fontina cheese instead of parmesan as I have some in the fridge that i want to use up
Hi, Terri. That would probably work, but it's not something we've tried before. Would love to hear your thoughts if you give it a go!
Thank you Suzy!!! Making this tonight for meatless Monday : )
Does everyone use 2 "cups" of parsley?
Does everyone really use 2 CUPS of parsley?
I do :). But this is something you can reduce a bit if you prefer!
Thank you Suzy!!! Making this tonight for meatless Monday : )
Yummy! Modifications: I made this gluten-free with Aldi brand GF fusilli, fresh broccoli florets, dry parsley, and no pine nuts. I definitely think fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts would have been amazing in this and put mine to the next level, I just didn’t have them on hand! Every other ingredient and step, I followed pretty precisely. I steamed the fresh broccoli over the boiling pasta for only about 5 minutes to steam before putting them with the aromatics, so they still had a little crunch. For GF pasta I would recommend undercooking it in the boiling water a little, because it will pick up some cook time when you toss it with the rest of the ingredients (I did this and had no breakage when tossing as is super common with GF pastas). I think a lot of people might have found this recipe bland because they didn’t season to taste in step 3. I added a palmful of salt—a bit less than a tablespoon—and a sprinkle of pepper at that point and checked the taste again when everything was mixed before serving. The flavors are in there, trust me! You just need a little salt to bring it out! Next time I would prioritize the fresh parsley and pine nuts, and perhaps consider using a shallot instead of both onion and garlic. I served with a simple salad appetizer, and sprinkled Aleppo pepper on top for color, with a glass of Prosecco. 😋
Thank you for this great feedback, Kait! Super helpful!!
Unfortunately I did not like this due to the Za'tar seasoning. It was a brand new jar, first time using, and I discovered I don't like it. If you're not sure you'll like Za'tar, taste it first without and then add it.
Pretty good, but bland. I added chopped kalamata olives and extra parmesan.
While the family didn’t miss the pine nuts and I didn’t use Aleppo pepper, we found that zatar is essential to this recipe, what made it distinctive and flavorful so don’t leave it out!
Oh for sure! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jenny!
I made this for lunch and it is very bland and a sticky mess despite adding more water. I followed the recipe Word for Word including the za’atar. I saved the broccoli and chucked the rest. I’ve never given one star but I was close here. I’m glad other people enjoyed it.