Surprisingly Healthy Pasta With Broccoli and Cheese

Yesterday, Jack and Derek kept asking me to bake up some of our frozen Mickey nuggets (the kind you buy in a huge bag at Costco) for dinner. While I’m no stranger to serving nuggets with a side of veggies or fruit for lunch, I’m a little more reluctant to use nuggets as the main course for dinner (unless we’re really in a bind for time, or the fridge and pantry are absolutely empty). I guess I like to feel like I’m sending the kids off to bed with good fuel in their bellies.

Anyway, they made this request so earnestly and politely that I just didn’t want to say no, so instead, I searched for a healthy entree that would go well with a side of Mickey nuggets, and that’s when I came across this Skinnytaste broccoli and cheese pasta. I’ve been a fan of Skinnytaste for a while, and recently my friend Yue sent me an awesome-looking breakfast recipe from it (I’ll write about that one soon!), but I hadn’t yet seen this particular recipe. I was hooked by the fact that it has more than one cup of broccoli for each serving, and that it features garlic, olive oil and cheese but clocks in at a mere 282 calories per 1.5-cup serving. Score! I wasn’t disappointed when I tasted the actual finished product, either — garlicky, satisfying, great cheese flavor, but not greasy at all. The boys gobbled it up — they even left one Mickey nugget apiece, choosing to polish off the pasta instead. If that doesn’t make this recipe a keeper, I don’t know what does! 🙂

Pasta and Broccoli

Makes six 1.5-cup servings


  • 12 ounces uncooked pasta (any shape you prefer, but I advise that you stay away from strand pastas. I used Barilla Plus bow ties)
  • 6.5 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan or Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, adding in the broccoli florets in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking (the original recipe said to add the pasta and broccoli at the same time, but I like my broccoli a bit on the harder side, plus I knew Johnny would be microwaving leftovers for lunch at work, and I didn’t want the broccoli to be too soft to begin with). Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the broccoli and pasta. Return the empty pot to the stove.

Drained broccoli and pasta

Turn the heat up to high, add one tablespoon of the olive oil to the pot, then cook the chopped garlic until the garlic is fragrant and golden. Add the pasta and broccoli back in, then mix well. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the cheese, and the salt and pepper, mixing well and breaking up any large broccoli florets with a wooden spoon. Add in half a cup of the reserved cooking liquid and mix well. If needed, add in more of the reserved liquid to moisten the pasta. Spoon into bowls, sprinkle with some more cheese if desired, and serve!


About Saucy Mommy

I'm Beverly, a mom of two who loves to cook and write. Check out my blog at for family-friendly (but tasty) meal ideas and pictures of bento box lunches.


2 thoughts on “Surprisingly Healthy Pasta With Broccoli and Cheese

  1. Mmmmm…I make a VERY similar dish but with asparagus. I should totally make this one because Hannah and Aidan love broccoli! I’ll have to get some brown rice pasta and make it very soon! I’m making Mongolian Beef tonight (again) 🙂 Would you mind if I shared that recipe on my blog soon?

    Posted by Cooking, Crafting & Chaos | February 7, 2012, 9:44 am
    • Of course I don’t mind, Shelly! I would be very flattered. Please feel free to share any of my recipes — not that I could call 99% of them “mine,” anyway. Like you, I scour online recipes and then modify them! 🙂 Ooh, Mongolian beef–soo soo good! The other day I made chili in the slow cooker the way that you taught me, and it was SO GOOD (as it always is). There weren’t any leftovers. 😦

      Posted by Saucy Mommy | February 7, 2012, 10:35 am

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