Penne Alfredo with Broccoli for an impressive meatless pasta dish that’s easy to make and ready in minutes. With tender-crisp broccoli florets and garlicky cream sauce, it’s hearty and tasty!
One of our favorite food haunts is a pizza parlor a few blocks from the house. It’s just a hole-in-wall in a decrepit shopping center but their made-from-scratch pasta dishes and Sicilian-style pizzas, in my opinion, will rival that of many finer establishments.
They offer a variety of pasta such as lasagna, baked ziti, and stuffed jumbo shells but it’s the penne alfredo with broccoli I couldn’t give enough of! The noodles are firm to bite, the broccoli florets are tender yet crisp, and the sauce…man, oh man, it’s the stuff you’ll give up your waist for willingly.
I’ve cooked pasta with alfredo sauce many times but theirs had a certain it that left mine in the dust.
I was (over) stuffing my face when the chef passed by our table and overheard me telling G in between big bites that it was the creamiest, dreamiest pasta alfredo I’ve ever had. Bless his soul, he shared with me the secrets to their magical alfredo sauce.
How to Make Penne Alfredo with Broccoli
- To get the most of your garlic, add them while the butter is still warm and barely melted. Brown in low heat so you’ll draw out the flavor with without burning them.
- For best texture, cook the penne about 1 to 2 minutes less than package directions as they will continue to cook when mixed with the sauce.
- To keep the broccoli bright green and tender-crisp, parboil in boiling water for about 1 to 2 minutes and then blanch in iced water before adding to the pasta mixture.
- As the pasta will continue to absorb the sauce, take the pasta alfredo off the heat a bit saucier than you like. If it gets too thick, thin out in 1/2 cup increments with the water used to cook the pasta.
- For a smooth, creamy consistency, cook the sauce in simmer heat and do not bring to a boil lest the cream curdles and separates.
How to Make Alfredo Sauce with Milk
This penne alfredo recipe uses butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese to complete the sauce. If you prefer to use milk, you can make a roux to thicken it.
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add 3 tablespoons of flour and whisk into the butter to form a thick, smooth paste.
- Gradually add 2 cups of milk, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps. Continue to cook, whisking regularly, for about 2 to3 3 minutes or until sauce is hot and thickened.
- Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and whisk until combined.
- Add 2 minced garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce is thickened to desired consistency.
This penne pasta alfredo is a great meatless lunch or dinner option but feel free to add diced ham, pan-roasted shrimp or grilled chicken for a heartier dish. Serve with cheesy garlic bread and a Summer salad for a hearty and tasty meal the whole family will love.
Penne Alfredo with Broccoli
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 pound uncooked penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a pot over medium heat, bring about 1 quart water to a boil. Add broccoi and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until tender yet crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove from water and plunge into a bowl of iced water. When cold, drain from water and set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, bring about 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain well, reserving about 1 cup liquid.
- In a wide pan over medium-low heat, add butter. When butter begins to melt, add garlic and cook, stirring, regularly, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until softened and aromatic.
- Add heavy cream and simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add Parmesan cheese, whisking vigorously until cheese is melted.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook until sauce begins to slightly thicken.
- Add pasta and broccoli and continue to cook, stirring, occasionally, until heated through. If sauce becomes too thick, add the reserved liquid (from cooking pasta) in 1/2 cup increments.
- Garnish with grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve hot.