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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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 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.
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 & Broccoli out quite nicely.
- 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.
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