Broccoli pasta with sausage and Parmesan is an easy weeknight dinner and a great way to get more broccoli into your kids!
I’m back! We just surprised our girls with their first ever trip to Disney World. For more than half a year, we kept the trip a secret, making plans after they were in bed, packing suitcases while they played outside. They loved every minute of it and happily scurried off to school today to show off their autograph books and photos. I, on the other hand, am happy for a little peace and quiet after the chaos of the parks. While we were gone, the mild autumn weather left the Northeast and the cold and damp of mid-November kicked in. I’ve been freezing since I got home!
Given the cold weather, comfort food is high on the list these days. Given my recent success in getting my oldest daughter to eat broccoli without crying, I decided to push my luck and serve it again, this time mixed in with pasta, sausage and plenty of Parmesan cheese. I adapted this broccoli pasta from a recipe that recently appeared in Bon Appetit, inspired by a beautiful head of broccoli from my CSA. The broccoli is blanched then chopped small, so there was no way my daughter could simply pick it out. She pouted for a couple minutes then gobbled it up leaving only the bigger pieces of broccoli in her bowl. My younger one devoured it, pronouncing her love for broccoli with every bite (this is the kid who replied broccoli when our pediatrician asked her favorite food!)
- 1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets, stalk cut into bite-sized pieces
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 links fresh sweet Italian sausage
- ½ pound gemelli
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¾ cup Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
- Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook broccoli until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer broccoli to a colander to cool. Reserve water to cook pasta. When cool, chop broccoli into small pieces; set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Squeeze the sausage out of its casing and add to pan, using a spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook until the sausage starts to brown and is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Bring pot of water back to a boil and cook pasta until al dente (about 2 minutes less than package instructions - it will cook more with the sauce).
- While the pasta cooks, add the broccoli to the pan with the sausage. Add about ½ cup of the pasta water and bring to a low simmer.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the pan with the sausage and broccoli. Add another ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Cook until pasta is cooked through, stirring frequently.
- Add butter and stir until melted. Stir in Parmesan until sauce thickens and pasta is well-coated.
- To serve, garnish with extra Parmesan and sprinkle with crushed red pepper if desired.