Picture this: perfectly tender orecchiette pasta in a luscious butter sauce tossed with crisp broccolini and sweet sun-dried tomatoes with garlic, onion, and salty parmesan. That’s what we have here, friends. You don’t even have to imagine it. In just 20 minutes you can have it all!
This under-30-minute vegetarian pasta recipe is so quick to make, and with its simplicity, it makes the perfect weeknight dinner. And you know there’s nothing better than pasta for a quick, comforting dinner.
What is Orecchiette Pasta?
Orecchiette pasta is a pasta shape. It’s a small, cup-like shaped pasta that has a delicious way of holding extra sauce, making them perfect for saucy pasta recipes.
The Italian word Orecchiette translates in English to ‘small ear’. Aptly named because of their shape.
Orecchiette Pasta Ingredients + Substitutions
You’re going to love that this one-pan orecchiette pasta recipe uses very simple ingredients that come together to make this flavorful, fabulous vegetarian pasta!
- Butter + Olive Oil: to sautee and finish the sauce.
- Yellow Onion: sauteing it creates a flavorful base for the sauce with slightly caramelized onion. You can use shallot in its place, too.
- Garlic: of course!
- Broccolini: you know I love deliciously tender, slightly sweet broccolini, and it’s no exception in this pasta! You can use regular broccoli florets or even frozen broccoli. If you are using frozen broccoli, add it to the pasta towards the end so it doesn’t get too soggy and overcooked.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: a must-have in my pantry to throw in easy pasta or salads. They have a rich, deep tomato flavor that’s sweet and quite full of umami flavor (perfect for vegetarian pasta!). I recommend using the ones that are already packed in oil, as they’re softer and generally more flavorful, but the dried ones will work too, as they’ll soak in the sauce.
- Orecchiette Pasta: if you can’t find orecchiette pasta, you can substitute another small-shaped pasta like farfalle, fusilli, or penne. Whichever small pasta shape you do substitute, take note of the suggested cook time as it will vary slightly.
- Vegetable Stock: using a flavorful vegetable stock will add more flavor to the pasta sauce over all.
- Parmesan Cheese – this salty cheese brings the sauce all together at the end, adding a little creaminess to it, and you can’t go wrong with parmesan cheese, can you?
How to Make One Pot Pasta
This pasta recipe is so easy to make… it truly doesn’t get better than this, with one pan and a few simple ingredients. It makes clean-up and prep a breeze, too!
The key to success for a one-pot pasta is to make sure you’re starting with a pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients, including the stock and pasta, once they are added towards the end of the cooking process.
I love using an extra-large sauté pan, but you can also use a dutch oven or stockpot. I like making sure the pan is wider than it is tall, if possible, for quicker cooking. You can see in the photos I used my 12-inch Green Pan; it was a close fit, but it worked!
You just want to be super sure the pan has edges that are tall enough to hold all the liquid-sauce goodness in!
Start by sauteing the vegetables
First, saute the yellow onion and broccolini in a little butter and olive oil.
Don’t forget to layer in your flavors by adding a little bit of salt at the start, along with red pepper flakes, and continue adding salt throughout the cooking process, bit by bit, until it’s to your preferences.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes, too!
Add the Pasta and Vegetable Stock
Once the vegetables have been sauteed, add the pasta and vegetable broth. It all cooks down together until the pasta is cooked to al dente and most of the pasta water (liquid) is absorbed. There will be some liquid remaining, as it creates the sauce.
Stir the pasta quite frequently. Because it’s not boiling in a large pot of water, this will help it cook evenly.
The Finishing Touches
Once the pasta is at the al dente point (yes, be sure you taste test it!), add the remaining butter and parmesan cheese. They play one of the most important parts: making the sauce creamy!
That’s it, your one-pan pasta dinner is ready to be devoured! Garnish with additional parmesan cheese, or fresh parsley or basil as desired, and enjoy! If you need a little acidic contrast, a squeeze of lemon juice is delicious, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use regular broccoli florets in place of the broccolini. Or use frozen and add them towards the end of the cooking process to avoid them becoming soggy.
Add mushrooms, sauteeing them with the onion and broccoli, allowing their liquid to release before continuing with the recipe. Wilt in kale or spinach at the end of the cooking process.
More Easy Vegetarian Pasta Recipes
- One Pot Broccoli Parmesan Orzo
- 5 Ingredient Blistered Tomato Pasta
- Roasted Broccoli and Sweet Potato Orzo
- One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta (it’s vegan!)
- One-Pot Creamy Gnocchi with Tomato and Spinach
Get the Recipe The Easiest One-Pan Orecchiette Pasta Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup broccolini, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 bunch)
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
- 16 oz. dried orecchiette pasta
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese*, freshly shredded
- Heat a large sauté pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter to the pan and heat to melt. Add the onion, garlic, and broccolini to the pan, stirring to coat. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt (continuing to layer in salt throughout the cooking process). Let cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes, orecchiette, and vegetable stock, stirring to combine. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 11-13 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Check the directions on the pasta package to confirm cook time. Stir frequently to cook the pasta evenly. If pasta seems to have absorbed too much liquid, you can add in about 1/4 cup more as needed.
- Remove from heat and stir in remaining butter and parmesan cheese until combined. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese as desired.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: I like to use sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in oil, but the dried ones will work too.
- Storage & Reheating: store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a little vegetable stock as needed so it doesn’t dry out.
- Parmesan Cheese: look for a brand specifically labeled vegetarian or made with microbial enzymes, if needed.