Quick Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet

December 6, 2016

Quick Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet

Surely, you didn’t think I was going to let this year end without populating the broccoli archives with one new recipe, right?
I mean, sure, the Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole is still a star. The Creamy Broccoli Soup always gets raves. And so does Chinese Chicken and Broccoli.
But when you have a nephew that likes broccoli — scratch that — LOVES broccoli, you’re always on the hunt for new and advanced ways to prepare the beloved green cruciferous vegetable.
These days, I’ll find a recipe for a broccoli dish in a magazine and be like “Man I have to make this for Nephew!
I’m such an awesome uncle, I should get a medal...


Anyways, the other day Nephew asked for pasta with broccoli. So I started making pasta with broccoli the way I usually do. But then I thought: What about adding lemon juice and lemon zest? What about adding garlic sauteed in butter? What about almost reversing the proportion broccoli to pasta? What about adding some spinach? What about a good amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese?
So I did all of these things and Nephew happily declared that this was hands down the best broccoli pasta he ever had.
If you consider that he’s now 11 years old, that surely amounts to something.

Quick Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet

This recipe couldn’t be simpler.
Cook the pasta, add broccoli, drain. Transfer to skillet, add spinach, reserved cooking water, garlic butter, and lemon juice.
The Parmesan comes at the end, and you should shower the whole skillet with it.

Quick Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet

The preparation is smooth and wonderful and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
The lemon adds an a nice tang, which cuts the broccoli natural blandness. While the spinach brings in a fresh flavor and helps bind it all together.
This is a truly delicious pasta dish, and if you don’t trust me, trust Nephew!

Quick Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet                                                                                                Print this recipe!

Note. I used Gluten Free Garofalo Penne for this recipe, which cooks in 8 minutes when added to boiling water. If you use a pasta that cooks for a longer time adjust cooking time accordingly. Broccoli florets should cook 3 minutes and the pasta needs to be drained slightly undercooked, as it will finish cooking in the skillet with the other ingredients.


1 lb / 453 gr penne (or rotini) pasta (I used Garofalo gluten-free penne)
1 lb broccoli, cut into small florets (almost bite-size)
4 cups spinach, washed and roughly chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice of one lemon
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fine grain salt


Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant.
Keep an eye on the garlic the whole time, you don’t want it to burn or it will turn bitter (use the smallest burner you have if necessary). Turn off the heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and boil for 3 minutes.
Add broccoli florets and cook for 4 minutes (leave the burner high enough to keep a rolling boil).
Drain the pasta reserving ½ cup of cooking water.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add broccoli pasta, spinach, and sauté for 1 minute or until the spinach has wilted.
Add garlic butter, lemon juice, cooking water, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
Stir in Parmesan cheese, ground black pepper, salt, and sprinkle with lemon zest. Toss to coat.
Take a taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 465 calories, 14 grams of fat, 70 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of protein.


  1. Lemon, broccoli and pasta. All of my favorite things! YUM!


  2. Perfect combination all the way around, this looks like the kind of dinner that needs to go on the weekly menu stat!

  3. I will add some anchovies to up the protein and make it a one-pot meal. This dish has all my favourite things.

  4. This was pretty tasty...just a little dry. I added olive oil when I served it. Next time I'll use a bigger pot. It was pretty crowded and hard to stir when I added the spinach. 3 stars thank you for sharing.

  5. How many serving are in this recipe?

  6. Shouldn't the ingredients read 4 tablespoons of butter?

  7. Made this tonight. My husband is picky and won’t eat broccoli, but I kept the pieces big enough for him to pick out. We have enough left over for dinner tomorrow and I may add bacon or chicken or both. I loved it, he said it was OK. He is also a very meat and potato person and very hard to get him to eat a green veg.

  8. How many servings are in this recipe?

    1. It's about 5 servings (or alternatively 4 very large servings!)