Lemon Butter Broccoli Pasta with garlic, chiles, and golden basil breadcrumbs will become a weeknight dinner favorite. Between the crisp-tender broccoli and luscious lemon butter sauce, it will have even the pickiest eaters coming back for seconds.
12oz.dry pasta of choice(use chickpea or lentil-based pasta for gluten-free/higher protein)
2Tbsp.extra-virgin olive oil
6cupssmall broccoli florets
3/4tsp.kosher salt, divided
4garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2tsp.chili flakes(1/4 tsp for mild heat, 1/2 tsp for medium)
Zest and juice of 1 whole lemon, divided
1/2tsp.cracked black pepper
1/3cupgrated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish
Prepare Basil Breadcrumbs: Heat 2 tsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add panko and pine nuts (or walnuts). Cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes; season with a pinch of salt. Transfer to a bowl and stir in fresh basil. Wipe skillet clean.
Boil Pasta: Cook pasta in a large pot of SALTED water until just shy of al dente. Before draining, reserve 3/4 cup of pasta cooking water.
Sauté Broccoli: While pasta cooks, add olive oil to the same skillet you toasted the breadcrumbs in over medium-high heat. Once hot, add broccoli and cook 6 to 7 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until vibrant green and crisp-tender. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt, and transfer broccoli to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Prepare Lemon Butter Sauce: Add remaining 3 Tbsp. butter to pan, along with garlic, chili flakes, and lemon zest; cook 1 to 2 minutes, until aromatic. Pour in reserved pasta cooking liquid, lemon juice, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and black pepper; simmer 2 minutes.
Assemble: Add cooked pasta and broccoli to skillet and toss with lemon butter sauce. Gradually sprinkle in Parmesan cheese, while stirring continuously to avoid clumping, until sauce begins clinging to noodles. Spoon pasta into bowls and sprinkle basil breadcrumbs overtop. Serve with extra basil and cheese, if desired.
Make-Ahead: Chop the broccoli up to 2 days ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.Store: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. (Note: it's best to store the crispy Panko mixture separately in a zip-top bag at room temperature.)Reheat: Place in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until warm. Alternatively, heat in a medium skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of water as needed to rehydrate the noodles, until warm.