With bold flavors, ample veggies, and serious comfort-food cred, this lemony spaghetti with broccoli and Parmesan deserves to be in regular dinner rotation. Plus, it's fast enough to make after you get home from a busy workday —especially if you buy pre-chopped broccoli florets — and won't leave a pile of dirty dishes to deal with when dinner is done.
The real beauty of this recipe is that it's both sophisticated, due to the bright and flavorful lemon, olive oil, and Parmesan sauce, and is totally accessible to kids (thanks, spaghetti!). This is the sort of simple food that makes weeknight cooking feel totally attainable, and dare we say, enjoyable.
To help everyone meet their healthy eating resolutions, there are plenty of vegetables to go around. And actually, since the broccoli is cooked just until crisp-tender and topped with grated Parmesan, you might be surprised at how much the kids will eat! (P.S.: You can use frozen broccoli in a pinch.) The frozen peas need no prep work, but add a pleasant natural sweetness that balances the lemon.
As far as the pasta goes, anything works, so use whichever type of pasta your family prefers — gluten-free, whole wheat, or the traditional. Check the ounces on your package and if it's less than 16 (which it likely will be if it's gluten-free), use a little less of the pasta water when making the sauce.
The first time I served this pasta to my family, I completely expected my 5-year-old to give me grief about something in the meal because as we all know, kids hardly need a reason to dislike dinner. Instead, she tucked into her bowl, broccoli and all, and asked for seconds before I'd even had a chance to sit down.
We like our bowls topped with extra Parmesan, my husband always adds crushed red pepper, and sometimes I even double the peas. Snip the spaghetti into small pieces for toddlers to make this a little easier to eat … or consider taking the opportunity to start those pasta-twirling lessons. And know that this packs up nicely for lunch the next day, should there be leftovers!
Veggie-Packed Dinners For Little Eaters and Hungry Parents
Maybe you aren't going for anything too extreme when it comes to New Year's resolutions, and that's something we can get behind. A positive change (like ensuring there's a big produce moment in every meal) doesn't have to be complicated — especially when you've also got little mouths to feed. With that in mind, we're sharing five-ingredient dinners that put the focus on veggies, keep the kiddos happy, and ensure the parents are well-fed too. Here's to a simpler way to do dinner!
Lemony Broccoli Pasta
1 pound dried spaghetti
4 to 5 cups broccoli florets (from about 2 heads)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/3 cup olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1 cup frozen peas
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Two minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broccoli. Meanwhile, place the Parmesan, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and broccoli. Return the pasta and broccoli to the pot. Add the Parmesan mixture and peas and toss to combine, adding the reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with additional Parmesan.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.