This easy, cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake is a great no-fuss dinner idea. Flavourful roasted broccoli and red onion, tossed with pasta in a quick cream cheese and cheddar sauce with a deliciously crunchy almond and cheese topping.
Who doesn’t love a good pasta bake? There are so many tasty combinations, like my Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake or Chicken Chorizo Pasta Bake. Pasta Bakes are so easy to throw together, great for feeding a crowd and make excellent leftovers.
Roasted Broccoli Pasta Bake
The trick for the best ever broccoli pasta bake is to oven roast the broccoli. Roasting broccoli gives it a delicious caramelized flavour and perfect crispy edges.
Boiled or steamed broccoli soaks up a lot of water which would escape into the pasta as it bakes making it watery and soggy. Roasting the broccoli avoids this, gives the broccoli so much extra flavour and keeps it perfectly crisp and tender.
Roasting broccoli may seem like a needless extra step, taking up precious time but actually the broccoli will roast perfectly in the time that it takes to cook the pasta and prepare the sauce. And you can use the same roasting dish, meaning it is already nice and warm. Use the pot you cooked the pasta in to make the sauce too, and mix everything together there – save on the washing up as much as possible!
Crunchy Almond Pasta Bake Topping
Adding flaked almonds as a pasta bake topping may sound odd, but you really need to trust me here. Firstly, almonds and broccoli are a great flavour combination. And just like breadcrumbs, the almonds give a delicious toasted crunch which goes so perfectly with the creamy cheese sauce. Plus, almonds add some extra protein and plenty of nutrients to this broccoli pasta bake.
- Broccoli – I use about 2 average heads of regular broccoli. This dish would also work well with tenderstem broccoli or a mix of both.
- Pasta – shells or orecchiette are my favourite for this dish but any short pasta shape would work.
- Red Onion
- Cream Cheese – I use Boursin. Philadelphia will also work – choose a cream cheese with added garlic and herb flavouring or you can add your own additional herbs.
- Cheddar Cheese – parmesan, gouda or gruyere wold also work or a mixture of cheese. Use anything that melts well.
- Almonds – for the crunchy pasta bake topping. Breadcrumbs would be a good alternative.
How to Assemble Broccoli Pasta Bake
- Add chopped broccoli and thick sliced red onion to a baking dish with chopped garlic. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes while you cook the pasta and prepare the sauce. Cook then drain the pasta, reserving some cooking liquid. Add the cream cheese to the empty warm pasta pot. Melt the cream cheese, add grated cheddar cheese and a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water.
- Toss pasta, broccoli and red onion in the cream cheese sauce, season to taste and return to the baking dish.
- Top the pasta with almonds and grated cheddar then bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Serving Suggestions and Variations
Add more protein – Stir in some cooked chicken, ham or crispy bacon.
Extra vegetables – for an even healthier, vegetable packed pasta bake add some extra greens like asparagus or peppers when roasting the broccoli. Frozens peas or sweetcorn can be added to the pasta pot for the last minute of cooking. You can also stir in some spinach or kale when assembling the dish before baking.
Add Cauliflower – swap half of the pasta for a head of cauliflower, roasted alongside the broccoli, for a lower carb version.
Spice it up – add some chilli or red pepper flakes to the broccoli and onion before roasting for added spice.
Serve with Salad – I love this dish served with a crisp green salad.
Add bread – If you want to make it go further add some garlic bread or a crusty baguette on the side. Perfect for mopping up that cheesy sauce.
Make this pasta bake nut free by swapping the almonds for some breadcrumbs.
This dish is gluten free if you use a Gluten Free Pasta.
This broccoli pasta bake is suitable for vegetarians.
For a vegan or dairy free version, you could swap the cream cheese and cheddar for plant based alternatives, though I have not tested this and cannot personally recommend any suitable cheese products. If you have tried it or have any recommendations please share in the comments!
I hope you like this recipe as much as I do! Please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram @carrieskitchen_ if you make it!
More easy vegetarian pasta dishes:
- Gnocchi Bake with Tomato and Mozzarella
- Burst Cherry Tomato Pasta
- Pasta Primavera with Peas and Asparagus
- Garlic Mushroom Pasta
Broccoli Pasta Bake
- 1 ovenproof baking dish
- 1 large pot for pasta
- 1 Sharp Knife
- 1 Chopping Board
- 1 colander
- 1 Wooden Spoon or Spatula
- 1 cheese grater
- 300 grams pasta shells or another short pasta shape
- 1 head broccoli cut into bite sized florets
- 2 red onions sliced into wedges
- 2 cloves garlic diced
- 150 grams garlic and herb cream cheese I use Boursin
- 100 grams cheddar cheese grated
- 50 grams sliced almonds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- chopped chives optional
- Preheat your oven to 200°c/180 fan/400f/gas mark 6.
- Add the broccoli florets and red onion wedges to a large baking ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle with the chopped garlic and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss everything together before baking in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the broccoli is tender and beginning to caramelise.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water for about 2 minutes less than packaging instructions – it should be slightly undercooked.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pot to a very low heat and add the cream cheese along with 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Stir the cream cheese as it melts then stir in ⅓ of the grated cheddar, about 30 grams.
- Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir well to coat. Add more pasta water as desired to get a creamy consistency and to coat the pasta. Stir in the broccoli and red onion then transfer everything back into the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the pasta with the rest of the cheddar cheese plus the sliced almonds and some chopped chives. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Serve and enjoy.