Crunchy pasta with broccoli topped with toasted panko in a white bowl next to a small white bowl of toasted panko with a stainless steel spoon of toasted panko on a bamboo tray all on a grey surface (with logo overlay)

Crunchy Pasta with Broccoli

Crunchy pasta with Broccoli is a great variation of macaroni noodles with a very different flavor. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

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So my boys, contrary to most kids, won’t eat macaroni and cheese. I’ve tried baking it, making it in the slow cooker, and even adding pumpkin. Nope, nothing. One time, I tried making it with a bunch of leftover cheese we had and called it cheesy pasta. Still a no from them. That left me trying to find other ways to possibly use some macaroni noodles since I enjoy them!

Instead of mixing with cheese, I decided it was time to go a completely different route. Sometimes, they don’t like the texture of the cooked noodles and cheese together, it’s too soft. My macaroni casserole has a breadcrumb topping, but it’s not enough.

Having only a bit of liquid in the final meal, and adding some broccoli (which they will occasionally eat) and topping with breadcrumbs, made the meal more crunchy. They preferred this over regular macaroni and cheese. Bonus, they ate some of the broccoli in there, too!

I have on the ingredients that the red pepper flakes are optional. Even for someone who doesn’t like a lot of heat, I still recommend them. I’ve made it both ways, and without the red pepper it ends up a little bland. The kids liked it that way, but it needed that bit of kick to really step up the meal.

Crunchy Pasta with Broccoli Step by Step

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Ingredients for crunchy pasta with broccoli in white and stainless steel bowls on a grey surface

Preparation

Add the salt to the water and bring to a boil, then cook the noodles to al dente (about 6-7 minutes).

Cooked macaroni noodles in a saucepan on a grey surface

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the panko to the pan with the lemon pepper seasoning and cook, stirring often, until crispy and browned.

Toasted panko in a large skillet on a grey surface

Remove the panko from the pan and add the remaining oil. Add broccoli and cook until they are bright green, about 2-3 minutes.

Crispy broccoli in a large skillet on a grey surface

Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding the vegetable broth.

Crispy broccoli with broth in a large skillet on a grey surface

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes.

Scoop the pasta out of the pan with a slotted spoon and move to the pan with the broccoli.

Cooked macaroni with broccoli in a large skillet on a grey surface

Stir and cook another 2-3 minutes to let the flavors mix into the noodles.

Serve sprinkled with the toasted panko and garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes.

Crunchy pasta with broccoli topped with toasted panko in a white bowl next to a small white bowl of toasted panko with a stainless steel spoon of toasted panko on a bamboo tray all on a grey surface (vertical)

Crunchy Pasta with Broccoli Leftovers

This meal saves and reheats really well. I suggest storing the breadcrumbs separately from the pasta so they don’t get soggy. Once cooled, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, I suggest cooking in a small pot over medium heat. If it’s too dry, add a small amount of vegetable broth or water.

Recipe

Originally Published On: April 4, 2022

Crunchy pasta with broccoli topped with toasted panko in a white bowl next to a small white bowl of toasted panko with a stainless steel spoon of toasted panko on a bamboo tray all on a grey surface (with title overlay)

Crunchy Pasta with Broccoli

Crunchy pasta with Broccoli is a great variation of macaroni noodles with a very different flavor. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course:
Main Dish
Cuisine:
American
Diet
Vegan
|
Vegetarian
Keyword:
broccoli
|
macaroni
|
panko
|
pasta
|
vegan
Dietary Needs:
Dairy-Free
|
Egg-Free
|
Nut-Free
|
Vegan
Servings: 6 cups
5 from 12 votes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 head broccoli (cut into florets)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  • Add the salt to the water and bring to a boil, then cook the noodles to al dente (about 6-7 minutes)
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
  • Add the panko to the pan with the lemon pepper seasoning and cook, stirring often, until crispy and browned
  • Remove the panko from the pan and add the remaining oil
  • Add broccoli and cook until they are bright green, about 2-3 minutes
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding the vegetable broth
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes
  • Scoop the pasta out of the pan with a slotted spoon and move to the pan with the broccoli
  • Stir and cook another 2-3 minutes to let the flavors mix into the noodles
  • Serve sprinkled with the toasted panko and garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes
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Nutrition Facts
Crunchy Pasta with Broccoli
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 468 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Sodium 339mg14%
Potassium 540mg15%
Carbohydrates 69g23%
Fiber 6g24%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 863IU17%
Vitamin C 93mg113%
Calcium 91mg9%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutrition content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.

20 thoughts on “Crunchy Pasta with Broccoli”

  1. 5 stars
    I eat lots of pasta. I like that this also has added broccoli, for added nutrition. It’s free of meat, too, so my vegetarian daughters would also like it.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve tried this recipe with my family for meatless Mondays. Never added breadcrumbs though, this meal is definitely worth trying again.

  3. 5 stars
    That sounds like a fabulous combination. I love pasta and broccoli. The crunchy texture adds to the dish and panko is perfect for this.

  4. Rhian Westbury

    We’ve done a few crunchy spaghetti recipes and it’s amazing how something tastes with just a different texture. Sounds like a yummy dish x

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