Cooking and Recipes: Why this pasta should go viral next


Colin Crawford/The Daily Northwestern

Italian sausage and broccoli pasta in a bowl.

Colin Crawford, Columnist

Viral recipes for pasta, like Gigi Hadid’s spicy vodka pasta or the popular baked feta pasta, all have one unifying factor: they are easy to make. I believe I have found the next pasta that should go viral: sausage and broccoli pasta.

This pasta has everything, from the saltiness of the sausage to the unique texture of the broccoli; it is truly a delight. Though this recipe is light on seasoning, let me assuage your fears — this pasta is packed with flavor. The lack of added spices and herbs allows the core ingredients of the pasta — sausage and broccoli — to really shine.

Instead of Pecorino Romano cheese, I used shredded Parmesan simply because that was what was available in my fridge. Both successfully provide a salty, nutty element to the dish, so I would encourage trying either one.

The red pepper flakes really add a kick to this pasta, and they are one of my favorite toppings in general. Red pepper flakes spice up dishes not just in flavor but in color as well. This pasta was extremely satisfying and everyone in my family went for seconds. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6 (makes 6 servings) | Hands-on time: 10 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes | Source:



1 pound penne pasta

16 ounces broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground Italian pork sausage

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus more to taste)

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano (plus more for serving)

1/2 tablespoon lemon zest



  1. Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Once boiling, liberally salt the water and then add the pasta and cook to al dente. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets. Before draining, reserve 2 cups of pasta water. Drain the pasta and broccoli, then set aside.
  2. Return the pot to the stove and bring the heat to medium-high. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the Italian sausage and break it up as it begins to cook. When the sausage is no longer pink, add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until the sausage is browned.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, and then add the pasta and broccoli back to the pot.
  4. Next, add 1 1/2 cups of pasta water, grated cheese and fresh lemon zest to the pot and stir until everything is well combined. The pasta water will help to create a thin sauce that coats the pasta. Add the additional 1/2 cup of pasta water to create more sauce if needed.
  5. Serve the pasta with additional grated cheese, red pepper flakes and fresh lemon zest on top.

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Twitter: @ColinMCrawford

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