Creamy Broccoli Pasta has a little extra oomph in the comfort food department because it has two layers of different sauces included in the casserole. A white sauce with the broccoli and a red sauce with the pasta to make a very satisfying main dish.
Casseroles are one of my favorite types of recipes whether it is to cook, serve or eat.
You can make them as a side or serve them as a whole meal but either way, they make life easier and look very appetizing on the table.
You can create so many variations of a baked pasta dish, and the best ones are born with a little exploring in the kitchen.
That’s what happened with this recipe. I experimented with combining two layers of different sauces, and it just turned out incredible.
And none of it is hard to make, and in fact, the red sauce starts with a jar of spaghetti sauce, which most of us already have in the pantry.
Preparing Fresh Broccoli
One of the stars of the dish is broccoli. Something magical happens when you combine this cruciferous vegetable with a creamy and cheesy sauce (dairy-free of course).
It is the ultimate comfort food and who can turn it down?
A couple of tips for making a fresh broccoli casserole:
- Try to choose broccoli with heads that are heavy and with small buds tightly packed together. When you see yellowing occur (or even light green) that is a sign that your broccoli is going downhill.
- Store fresh broccoli in the coldest part of your refrigerator and only wash it when you are ready to use it.
- Although I included the exact amount of cups of broccoli, you don’t need to worry about being super precise. This recipe works just as well if you use a little more or a little less.
- The sweetness of onion nicely complements the florets.
[You Also Mike Like: Broccoli Rice Casserole]
Tips for Making Creamy Broccoli Pasta
Cook the pasta al dente (about 8 minutes). It is majorly important to avoid overcooking. You want it still a bit firm and chewy because there will be more cooking when it bakes in the oven.
I love Rotini pasta with all its twists and turns. It holds a lot of sauce.
You want to add extra flavor to a tomato sauce by adding the right type of veggies. For this casserole dish, I chose simple classic ingredients like garlic, onions, and bell pepper.
It not only adds some great texture to the spaghetti sauce with a beautiful garlicky aroma, but it nicely balances the sweet and savory flavors in this sauce.
Layer the Sauces:
You want to create two distinct layers in this dish. So I always first add the broccoli with the creamy mixture and then carefully top it off with the red pasta sauce mixture.
What you’ll get is two wonderful flavors with each bite that is super saucy, cheesy yet with that rich sweetness of the spaghetti sauce and veggies.
It is comfort food taken to the next level!
In those rare cases that you are going to have leftovers, you just have to reheat it over low heat to revive all that creaminess and bring back the sauciness of this dish.
This broccoli pasta casserole tastes even better the next day! No kidding!
Make Two Creamy Broccoli Pasta Dinners for Two in One Swoop:
I usually make two smaller 6” x 8” casseroles and freeze one for later. That feeds two.
And this way you always have an extra creamy pasta dinner ready and waiting for you on those days that you have little time to spend in your kitchen.
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A healthy broccoli pasta casserole doesn’t get any easier than this.
Serve with a salad and garlic bread and you have a perfect vegan family meal.
And what is more important, your family is going to love it!
Creamy Broccoli Pasta
- 2 cups broccoli washed and cut into large florets
- 2 cups rotini pasta uncooked
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil organic
- 1/2 cup onion yellow, diced
- 1 cup green bell pepper diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups Spaghetti Sauce organic
- 2/3 cup dairy free milk unsweetened
- 6 ounce dairy free cream cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees,
- Lightly grease (oil) a 9" x 13" casserole or two 6" x 8" casseroles. The two smaller casserole dishes are for if you want to save one for later.
- Steam broccoli in a steaming basket or a saucepot steamer, until crisp tender - about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Reserve the liquid.
- Cook pasta al dente about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon water in a large skillet.
- Add the onion and bell pepper and saute about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté for about 2 more minutes.
- Add the salt and pepper.
- Pour the spaghetti sauce over the onion, bell pepper, garlic mixture.
- Stir and heat through. Set aside.
- To a small saucepan add dairy free milk and dairy free cream cheese. Set on low.
- Stir until it is well blended and the cream cheese is completed melted. Set aside.
- Spread out the steamed broccoli in the casserole (or casseroles).
- Pour the melted cream cheese and milk mixture over the broccoli. Stir a bit to coat all the broccoli.
- Put the rotini pasta to the skillet that has the onion red sauce mixture. Mix well.
- Pour the rotini pasta mixture over the broccoli mixture in the casserole (or casseroles).
- Do not stir these two together. They should stay in separate layers.
- At this point you and freeze the casserole (see notes below).
- To bake and eat now bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Please follow any of the directions defined in my article Preparing Food for the Freezer. TO PREPARE AFTER FREEZING: Take out of the freezer and put in the refrigerator at least 6 to 8 hours before baking (or the day before). Bake, covered at 350° for 20 minutes and then uncover and bake for 10 minutes.
Oh, my word! Here's a picture that I took of this 'two sauced' creamy broccoli pasta back in 2013.