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Nonna’s Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli

Nothing was better growing up than cheesy Italian American comfort food straight from Nonna’s kitchen. Keep those memories alive with a big batch of Nonna’s Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli- a quick & easy, one dish, vegetarian pasta dinner. Keep it simple, and keep making memories around meals with your own family with this humble recipe.

Nonna's Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli

I, and others of my generation, have the unique experience of remembering life (I use that term loosely) both before AND after the big boom of the internet. 

Like growing up, my best friends lived just a couple of doors down. I couldn’t imagine knowing, let alone being such good friends with someone I didn’t see every day- or at the very least go to school or church with.

Nonna's Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli

Now, I have friends all over the United States. All over the world even. Some of whom, I’ve never even met in person!

Thanks to the internet, and social media, that bit doesn’t really seem to matter much.

Nonna's Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli

So not only has my friend circle expanded, but so has my pool of unique ideas and flavor profiles to pull from when it comes to testing recipes.

I’ve got regional, and now even world wide. 

Nonna's Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli

Luckily, my social media habit and obsession with groups specifically designed for sharing recipes has led to some delicious discoveries.

My favorite, bar none, is this recipe for Nonna’s Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli.

Also known as pasta e broccoli in my husband’s Italian family It comes from my friend Elise, a beautiful soul with a wealth of knowledge to hand down and pass along in the kitchen straight from her own Italian kitchen.

Thankfully, she’s not stingy with it, or with sharing the family recipe secrets, and now it’s my turn to have the privilege of sharing it with all of you!

Nonna's Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli\

Nonna’s Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli is a magical dish that’s also surprisingly easy to pull together.

Somewhere between a soup with pasta, and an extra saucy pasta dish- it’s major flavor in every bite.

The pasta soaks up every ounce of deliciousness from the creamy cheese sauce and the fresh broccoli.

Nonna's Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli

Simple Italian American comfort food, this one dish pasta dinner is easy enough for a weeknight meal and indulgent enough to be considered a special treat any day.

While the recipe as written is for a meatless, vegetarian version- when I need a more filling one dish dinner a few cups of chopped rotisserie chicken rounds Nonna’s Italian spaghetti and broccoli out quite nicely.

Nonna's Italian Spaghetti & Broccoli

If you’ve tried this recipe for NONNA’S SPAGHETTI AND BROCCOLI, or any other recipe on the site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTERESTFACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!

Nonna's Spaghetti and Broccoli

A one dish meatless meal that's creamy cheesy Italian American comfort food straight from Nonna's kitchen.
4.60 from 22 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 710kcal


  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1- pound spaghetti broken into 2-3" pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 12 oz pkgs fresh broccoli florets
  • 8-10 cloves garlic peeled, crushed, and minced
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 1/2-2 cups grated Romano cheese or more to taste
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional


  • Fill an 8-quart pot just under 3/4s full of water. Stir in the salt and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Stir in the spaghetti,oil, garlic, pepper, and broccoli.
  • Bring the mixture back to a boil and let boil for about 2-3 minutes. Cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for about an an hour and a half, stirring every 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and has absorbed most of the liquid.
  • At the 45 minute mark, stir in the romano cheese, until melted and evenly incorporated. As soon as the pasta's cooked, stir in the remaining cheeses until melted and serve.
  • Top with additional grated Parmesan, if desired and enjoy with a piece of warm crusty bread.


Just a reminder, this is more of a soup than a pasta dish! The pasta is not firm and al dente like a macaroni and broccoli served with less liquid. You can add more water if you prefer it more "soupy”, and you will have to add more when reheating any leftovers.


Calories: 710kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 4185mg | Potassium: 451mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 860IU | Vitamin C: 60.2mg | Calcium: 610mg | Iron: 2.1mg
Did you make this recipe?Share it on Instagram @4sonsrus or tag #4sonsrus!

Other Family Favorite Italian Recipes You Might Enjoy:

Nonna’s Italian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatball’s Soup

Italian Wedding Soup Pasta Skillet

Parmesan Chicken Sandwiches with Garlic Basil Aioli

 Linked at Meal Plan Monday

4.60 from 22 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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  1. Meaghan, I am beyond touched that you honored my family’s recipe here on your blog. This was one of my father’s favorite dishes and my mother made it quite often. He liked it soupy and that’s how it evolved from a basic macaroni and broccoli to this recipe. I was so touched by your post, I actually started to cry. My mother was a firm believer in sharing recipes as am I, what is the point of not sharing a recipe??? No one has any original recipes unless you are Eve in the Garden of Eden. I am always happy to share all my recipes and I’m so honored that you chose one of mine to share on your blog. Thank you so much!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it, and felt I did it (and you) justice! It’s the kind of family soul food everyone should know, love, and pass on 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you so much! Finally macaroni and broccoli just like my Grandma used to make!
    I just finished eating it! Delicious!
    I have been trying for years to duplicate!
    I added breadcrumbs sautéed in butter on top that’s how Grandma served it!
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤️

    1. 5 stars
      Seeing your comment on this post made my night. It was my mother’s recipe and my Dad’s favorite. I’m so happy you were able to recreate your grandmothers dish. I need to make it soon and I’m going to top it with the breadcrumbs, I love that idea 🙂

    2. Thanks, Estelle. Elise shared this family recipe with ours and it seems to bring back so many endearing memories for so many Italian families. I love your bread crumb suggestion and will definitely be giving that try next time this is on our supper menu!

  3. I’ve been looking for this as well. My GG made it this way and it was my favorite growing up. I can never get it right… so I’m thankful for your post! Will give it a try today!

  4. 5 stars
    My mom was from Sicily and made a version of this dish; I don’t have her recipe! Although hers was a bit different than this one, they taste the same. Delicious! The only thing I changed was a reduction in the amount of salt; it’s too much for my high blood pressure, and the abundance of cheese already makes the dish salty. I’m actually making a pot as I write this!

  5. So excited to find this, amazing recipe that is compliant to Mediterranean diet!! This is not compliant. You have to change the cheeses to be aged and unprocessed plus the pasta has to be whole wheat. I can substitute but its frustrating to find the recipe with the good title but not compliant content.

  6. My mother made something similar, but didn’t use mozzarella. She sauted the garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients.
    Mozzarella is listed in the ingredients, but it’s not in the directions. Do you top the soup with mozzarella when serving? Thank you