Broccoli pasta with pancetta recipe

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This broccoli pasta with pancetta takes 30 minutes to cook making it a great speedy family dinner...

Broccoli pasta with pancetta
(Image credit: Future)
Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time20 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories510 Kcal26%
Saturated Fat8 g40%
Fat18 g26%
Carbohydrates52 g20%

Our broccoli pasta with pancetta is easy to cook and you can get the kids to help prepare the veggies and grate the cheese. 

If you’re keen to get the kids cooking this is a great dinner to make together. They can dice the broccoli stalks, crush the garlic, juice the lemon, and grate the cheese. Using the whole head of broccoli is a great way to teach the little ones about the importance of reducing food waste. We’ve used wholewheat pasta for an extra hit of fibre but feel free to use whatever you’ve got in the cupboard. 


  • 1 large head of broccoli, approx 450g (1lb)
  • 300g (10oz) wholewheat penne pasta
  • 154g pack diced pancetta or chopped smoked bacon
  • 1 shallot or 1⁄2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 1⁄2tbsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or 1tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 50g (13⁄4oz) Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra for serving




  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, break the broccoli into small florets, saving the stalk. Cook the pasta according to the pack instructions, adding the florets to the pan for the final 10 mins. Once the broccoli is very tender, drain using a sieve, reserving 300ml (10fl oz) cooking water.
  2. While the pasta and broccoli florets are cooking, dice the stalk into cubes the size of the pancetta.
  3. In a large frying pan, fry the chopped stalk with the pancetta and lots of pepper for 8 mins. Add the shallot; cook for 5 mins more, stirring. Once the broccoli is tender, add the garlic for a final 1 min.
  4. Add the Drained pasta and broccoli florets to the frying pan. Stir through the lemon juice, the pul biber or chilli flakes, half the Parmesan and half the reserved pasta water.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the remaining cheese. If it looks dry, stir in a little more pasta water too.
  6. Season to taste, serve up into bowls, and add more cheese and chilli if you like.

Top tips for making our broccoli pasta with pancetta 

Consider swapping the pancetta for a couple of anchovy fillets. Fry with the broccoli stalks and they’ll have melted by the time the dish is finished adding a deliciously rich, umami undertone. You only need a couple and the jar will last ages in the fridge for your next dinner.

How to make pasta extra tasty?

Saving some of the pasta water is a simple, chef-y tip to upgrade your pasta without needing to add more ingredients. The starchy water helps to coat the pasta so the cheese and other ingredients stick and emulsify. You can finish pasta with fresh herbs or add dried herbs to the pan when cooking the veg. 

You can also finish the pasta with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for an additional flavour boost.

What age can kids eat chilli?

It’s not recommended that children under two have chilli as their tummies and taste buds are still very sensitive. Sprinkle the chilli flakes over your portion when you serve or omit from the recipe completely. 

How else can you eat broccoli stalk?

Use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons of the stalk that can be tossed into salads. You can also dice it and roast it or use it for the base of a soup.

Profile picture of Jessica Ransom
Jessica Ransom

“Using wholewheat pasta adds a nice nutty undertone to the flavour of this dish and the fibre means you feel fuller for longer. This makes the recipe a great option for lunch as it will help you avoid snacking.”

Hate chopping onions? Use a mini food chopper and it will be evenly sliced in a matter of minutes.

Kenwood Mini Chopper - View at Amazon

Kenwood Mini Chopper - View at Amazon

This little chopper will whizz an onion into small pieces in under a minute and is the perfect size for making smaller batches of pesto, hummus or spice pastes. It’s dishwasher safe and small enough to store in a cupboard or drawer.  

Want to know how to make fresh pasta? We have loads of advice plus tips on how to cook pasta too. Once you’ve mastered the basics, make this spaghetti bolognese for the family and see how impressed they are.

Rose Fooks
Deputy Food Editor

Rose Fooks is Deputy Food Editor at Future Publishing, creating recipes, reviewing products and writing food features for a range of lifestyle and home titles including GoodTo and Woman&Home. Before joining the team, Rose obtained a Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management at London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Going on to work in professional kitchens at The Delaunay and Zedel.

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