Florence Broccoli Orecchiette Pasta

PREP TIME: 15mins


Blitzed broccoli fried in a combination of olive oil, garlic, lemon and red peppers, tossed with freshly cooked pasta and topped with crunchy pumpkin seed breadcrumbs.

A fantastic way to get a truckload of ‘good-for-you’ broccoli into a quick meal as the broccoli and pasta all cook at the same time.

I came up with this recipe when we rented a tiny flat in Florence and I only had a few things in the fridge, such a good memory.

The absolute key to this dish is good seasoning. Don’t hold back on the extra virgin olive oil, use a good salt, freshly grated garlic, organic lemons and freshly cracked pepper – you will be rewarded!

Getting Ahead: the broccoli can be made a few days ahead. The breadcrumbs can also be made a few days ahead and stored in a airtight container in the fridge or cupboard.

Seasonal Swaps: you can use cauliflower instead of broccoli but bearing in mind that you will have a rather white looking dish! You can use any pasta here although I feel the short pastas (rigatoni, fussili and penne) works better. You can use any herbs here, but as a rule I prefer to use soft herbs to season at the end, think parsley, basil and tarragon.

Zero Waste: you can use the whole broccoli here including the stalk, just remove the really hard end bit of the stalk. Save & freeze the parsley stems to use in stocks or soups later.

Feeds 4 generously


Serving Suggestion:

Feel free to add fresh chillis too for colour & flavour. A few scatterings of strong pecorino or parmesan will also be lovely.

What you'll need:

A food processor to blitz the broccoli. If you don’t have a food processor you can chop the broccoli really finely.


  • 250g orecchiette pasta
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 cup really good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 small organic lemons
  • 1/2 red pepper, very finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (opt)
  • handful of fresh herbs,  finely chopped
  • salt & pepper

Pumpkin Seed Breadcrumbs

  • 4 slices sourdough bread, roughly torn or cut into chunks
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Add the torn bread and seeds to the baking tray. Season with olive oil, salt & pepper and mix well with your hands, bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. The bread will harden as it cools down. You can blitz in a food processor until a rough crumb or chop roughly with a knife.
  2. Cook the pasta in well salted boiling water until al dente – soft but with a bite to it, drain and reserve a few tablespoons of pasta water. Add the pasta and the pasta water back to the saucepan.
  3. While the pasta is cooking let’s fry some broccoli in batches. In a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add a good glug of olive oil, add some pepper, chilli and about 2 cups of broccoli at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (adding less if your pan is smaller). Fry the broccoli for a few minutes and then add a good pinch of salt, pepper and grate in some garlic. Fry for a further 3 minutes or until the broccoli is tender but still have texture to them, adding more oil as needed. Tip the broccoli into a baking dish and season with lemon juice, lemon zest and more seasoning if needed. Repeat until all the broccoli is cooked and seasoned to perfection.
  4. Add the broccoli to the pasta and mix well, have a taste and season for the last time with more lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, divide the pasta to four bowls, sprinkle over the pumpkin seed breadcrumbs, black pepper and a final drizzle of olive oil.
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