Pasta, Pizza, Risotto, Vegan/Vegetarian

Romanesco Broccoli Maccheroni

Nicoletta October 19, 2016

Jump To Recipe

Romanesco Broccoli Maccheroni: just a few quality ingredients for this easy, tasty, and classic pasta dish that will transport you to Rome and the flavors of its food scene. 


My father is a good cook, and what is better, he loves to cook. He is not even a messy cook, he usually cleans after himself, and this makes him so much like my husband, Loreto. I often hear women complain about the mess their husbands leave in the kitchen when cooking, not me, I was pretty lucky with the men in my lives. My brother is a different story, he is a good eater, but don’t ask him to cook. Absolutely anything, for that matters 🙂 .



My father can spend hours in his Roman kitchen, mostly cleaning, washing, and boiling verdura, greens and vegetables, that will be ready to be sautĂ©ed, or frozen, or roasted, and enjoyed by the whole family. In the summer, most of the greens and vegetables are from his garden in the country; in Autumn and Winter the garden produces mostly cabbage and kale, the rest is from organic Farmers Markets. Yes, we have that in common with my family, organic, simple eating is our way of life. He also loves, when in the countryside, to spend the mornings foraging and bringing back home any kind of seasonal finds: wild fruits, berries, asparagus, chestnuts, mushrooms. With the fruits and berries, he makes super delicious jams, and every time we go back he makes sure he has few jars for us to bring to Canada. During our last phone talk he told me that he had found some mushrooms, (including porcini, so jealous!) but very few chestnuts, this year is not so good for chestnuts. I guess it is the same as for olives, one year there are plenty on the trees, the next year none. Nature’s unpredictability.

Pasta e Broccoli

Among his go-to, most famous and tasty pasta dishes there is Pasta e broccoli. That in Rome means: pasta corta, any kind, with the broccolo romanesco. Pasta corta meaning short pasta: rigatoni, maccheroni, mezze maniche, penne, etc, as opposed to pasta lunga, long pasta: spaghetti, linguine, bucatini, ziti, etc. Fettuccine, tagliatelle, pappardelle are not considered pasta lunga, even if they’re long shaped, but pasta all’uovo (egg pasta). I know, crazy, eh? But as I told you here, and here, we are pretty serious to match pasta shape and pasta sauce 🙂 .

I was digressing from the topic, again. Sorry, back on track.


How it’s done

Every so often my father would cook this Romanesco Broccoli Pasta and we would all be so happy. He would start by cleaning the romanesco broccoli into florets, cooking them slightly in plenty of salted boiling water, and keeping the water aside to cook the pasta in. Then he would add the broccoli florets to a sauteing pan where plenty of good e.v.o. oil, garlic, and chili pepper (peperoncino) would be sizzling. The smell already anticipating the taste. He would mash some of the broccoli gently with a fork, adjust with salt and pepper, then add a bit of the pasta cooking water, and this would create a lovely creaminess, without using any cream. 


We would all be hungry by then and the smell coming from the kitchen would be killing us, so we would take the pasta out of the water even more “al dente” than usual, with the excuse that it needs to saute in the pan. He would take his time, and carefully and meticulously toss the pasta in the pan to coat it completely with the broccoli sauce while sprinkling a very generous amount of Pecorino Romano (or a mix of Pecorino/Parmigiano), which will create more creaminess. The pasta will stay in the pan and come to the dressed dining room table where all the pasta bowls would be handed to be filled by big spoonfuls. The finishing touch, some more Pecorino or Parmigiano grated on top. I can hear the clinging of the forks in the bowls, the wine being poured, Salute, Buon appetito.


And that’s exactly how I made this Romanesco Broccoli Maccheroni, in my Canadian kitchen, a thousand miles away from Rome. It reminds me so much of home. It is actually able to transport me to my city, just closing my eyes and putting a forkful in my mouth.

Song of the day: Philip Phillips “Home” (we saw him in concert in Edmonton, a couple of years ago).


Romanesco Broccoli Maccheroni

  • Author: Nicoletta and Loreto
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta, Vegetarian
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


Romanesco Broccoli Maccheroni: just a few quality ingredients for this easy, tasty, and classic pasta dish that will transport you to Rome and the flavors of its food scene.


  • 1 medium head of romanesco broccoli
  • 2 Tbsp e.v.o.oil
  • 1 garlic clove, whole
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 380 g maccheroni pasta (or rigatoni, or mezze maniche)
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano


  1. Clean and wash the broccoli and divide into florets.
  2. Put a large pot of salted water to boil and boil for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Take broccoli out of the water and keep the water boiling to cook the pasta.
  4. In a large sautée pan heat up e.v.o. oil, garlic and chili pepper.
  5. Toss the broccoli in, and mix well to infuse the oil into the broccoli. Using a wood fork mash the florets, adding some water to create the creaminess.
  6. Drain the pasta al dente and toss it in the pan with the broccoli.
  7. Add half of the Pecorino and mix well.
  8. Take off heat, plate, grate fresh pepper and sprinkle some more Pecorino on top.


You can add some minced onion to the pan with the evo oil, garlic, and chili flakes for additional flavor.

Any ‘short pasta’ would work: rigatoni, maccheroni, mezze maniche, penne.

You can mix Pecorino and Parmigiano if the flavor of the Pecorino is too strong for you.

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes


We also have a recipe for Farro Fusilli with Broccoli, with a different kind of broccoli. Enjoy!

Farro Fusilli with Broccoli

You Might Also Like


  • Avatar
    Reply Marrgaret October 19, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Nicoletta, that is such a beautiful food portrait, painting a picture of a little slice of your home life. I am hungry. Thank you.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 19, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Thank you Margaret! Glad you enjoyed the story and this pasta dish. Hope you’re having fun in your Italian vacation and eating lots of good food 😊.

  • Avatar
    Reply Adina October 20, 2016 at 6:51 am

    My husband wouldn’t cook to save his life, he would rather eat bread and cheese every day for a year rather than boil an egg or even reheat something that’s already cooked…. You are really lucky with your men. 🙂 This pasta dish sounds great, I love to combine broccoli with pasta (and some anchovies – always), but I have never tried pasta with romanesco, that’s a vegetable that I rarely find to buy. I will keep this in mind for the next time that I find romanesco.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 20, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Thanks Adina, yes, I’m lucky 🙂 . Anchovies would be a great addition. It is only a couple of years that we could find this type of broccoli in Canada, while in Rome there are plentiful in the markets 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply annie@ciaochowbambina October 20, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Your dad literally creates works of art….I loved reading your description of his process. And isn’t it incredible how we can make a ‘creamy’ sauce without the use of cream. This dish is stunning and delicious! Thank you for sharing, my friend!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 21, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Thank you Annie, yes my dad is pretty good in the kitchen. And he is also a wonderful storyteller. Not too much use of butter, cream, bechamel, in my parents kitchen, I have to say 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Ayngelina Brogan January 15, 2017 at 11:42 am

    What a great story about your father, and thank you for teaching me a new pasta. I had never heard of Maccheroni before

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Thank you Ayngelina, for taking the time to read and comment! In Rome we love maccheroni (or otherwise called tortiglioni), that are similar to rigatoni but smaller and a bit twisted 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Denise @ Urbnspice January 15, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    I love using romenesco broccoli – it is almost too pretty to eat, isn’t it? And what a lovely way to feature it with your wonderful recipe. Thanks, Nicoletta!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 16, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Romanesco broccoli is so pretty, isn’t it, Denise? And also so good for you! This recipe is one of our favorites! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.