Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon

An easy pasta supper, this time lemony, garlicky, cheesy and broccoli good. And isn't it just too cute how the chickpeas tuck themselves into the rigatoni? Plus it uses three super-simple techniques to boost all the flavors. Add some shaved parmesan and just like that, dinner's on the table!

Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon, another Quick Supper ♥ Lemony. Garlicky. Cheesy. Vegetarian.

Dinner, Made from Scratch. Real Food, Fast & Family-Tested. Another Quick Supper, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Hearty & Filling. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy. Vegetarian for Meatless Monday. High Protein. What're you waiting for?!

< SaltRant >

I have a theory, one which makes me swear like a sea-salty sailor.

We Americans consume ten times the salt our bodies need. So when we’re told to “cut back on salt,” we lightly salt – or worse, skip the salt entirely – when cooking eggs, meat and especially vegetables.

But saltless food tastes flat, leaving our taste buds unsatisfied and our inner chefs questioning our culinary skills.

So we turn to prepared food products, which, you guessed it, are heavily salted for both flavor and preservation – and taste better.

It’s a vicious circle, harder than laboring in the salt mines. The less we salt at home? The more salt we consume.

Tastes do vary with heredity, health and age. Children are more sensitive to saltiness than older adults, for example.

But if more salt means we eat more broccoli, more green beans, more leafy greens, more dried beans and legumes, more healthful food, well then, isn’t salt indeed a modern-day miracle food?

< End/SaltRant >

About This Recipe

Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon is a high-protein vegetarian main-dish pasta that's light and bright for spring. The recipe is expressly written to boost the flavors (hello, lemon lovers! hello, garlic lovers!) and avoid overcooking the broccoli (nobody wants broccoli mush!).

The distinctive ingredients are pasta, broccoli, chickpeas, lemon and garlic.

Ingredients = a full pound of broccoli + canned chickpeas + rigatoni (or another pasta shape) + lemons + garlic + parmesan.

The recipe uses three techniques to boost flavors.

  • Soaking the chickpeas in lemon juice
  • Cooking the broccoli florets and the pasta in the same pot (though not at the same time) in well-salted water
  • Sautéeing the broccoli stalks with lots of garlic

The recipe uses two techniques to avoid over overcooking or undercooking the broccoli.

  • The broccoli florets need less cooking so are briefly cooked separately in well-salted boiling water.
  • The broccoli stalks need longer cooking so are separately sautéed with garlic.

The recipe serves four, even allowing just two ounces of dried pasta per person.

How to Make Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in seven easy steps. It'll go fast, you can do this!

  • SOAK THE CHICKPEAS IN LEMON This is a huge flavor booster but takes a few minutes, that's why it's the first step.

  • BRING WELL-SALTED WATER TO A BOIL The same water will be used for the broccoli florets and the pasta.

  • PREP THE BROCCOLI Keep the broccoli florets (the tops) separate from the broccoli stalks (the stems).

  • COOK THE BROCCOLI FLORETS FIRST Drop the florets into the boiling water to cook briefly, then lift them out before cooking the pasta. This avoids overcooking the florets.

  • COOK THE PASTA Use the same pot and cooking water used for the florets.

  • SAUTÉ the BROCCOLI STALKS with GARLIC This step infuses the broccoli stalks with garlicky flavor.

  • FINALLY, COMBINE! Pull all the parts together in the pasta pot, tossing in a little grated parmesan.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Know Your Broccoli So much of cooking is about managing texture. For example, broccoli is almost two different plants: the stalks are thick and fibrous and take longer to cook than the small, tender florets. In this pasta dish, you want to cook the stalks well but the florets just until barely cooked.

Both are important here so if you're buying broccoli especially for this pasta, buy full broccoli with stalks and tops both.

But let's say you already have on hand what the grocery stores call "broccoli crowns" which are 90% florets and 10% stalks. No problem! It's okay to cook them both in the pasta pot, just throw the stalks in two to three minutes before the florets. You still do need to sauté the garlic, though, sorry, there's no saving a pot unless you happen to have some roasted garlic on hand.

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for broccoli pasta hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon ♥, an easy vegetarian supper recipe, lemony, garlicky, cheesy, broccoli good.


Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Serves 4
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed & drained
  • Zest & juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tablespoons)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons table salt
  • 1 pound (450g) fresh broccoli, crowns cut into bite-size florets, stalks peeled & chopped
  • 8 ounces (225g) dried rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Chopped broccoli stalks
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Cooked Pasta
  • Soaked Chickpeas & Lemon
  • Cooked Broccoli Stalks
  • Cooked Broccoli Florets
  • 1/4 cup (50g) grated parmesan
  • Shaved parmesan, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

MIX CHICKPEAS & LEMON In a small bowl, stir together the chickpeas, lemon zest, juice and pepper. Just a few minutes of soaking will brighten the chickpeas, do stir occasionally.

COOK BROCCOLI FLORETS & PASTA In a large pot, bring the water and salt to boil. Prep the broccoli, keeping the florets and chopped stalks separate. Once the water boils, drop the broccoli florets into boiling water, cover, cook just until tender, about 3 minutes, then lift out with slotted spoon to drain in a colander. Add the rigatoni to the pot, cook until done (check the pasta box for how many minutes) and drain. Return the pasta to the hot cooking pot.

SAUTÉ BROCCOLI STALKS Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium until shimmery. Add the chopped broccoli stalks and cook until just beginning to soften. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until the stalks reach the desired tenderness, about 3 minutes, stirring often.

COMBINE In the pasta pot, combined the Cooked Pasta, the Soaked Chickpeas and Lemon and the Cooked Broccoli Stalks and stir well. Last, stir in the Cooked Broccoli Florets and grated parmesan, stirring gently to avoid smashing the tender florets.

TO SERVE Transfer to serving plates, top each plate with a little shaved parmesan and a lemon wedge.

ALANNA’s TIPS If you really love broccoli (I do!), double the broccoli. You might want slightly more lemon juice too but other than that, no adjustments are needed. Use the pasta shape of your choice but it’s amusing how buds of chickpea tuck themselves inside the rings of rigatoni. Does it take forever to bring pasta water to a boil? Use your tea kettle! At my house, I warm the pasta pot on the stove with two cups water, then add six cups of boiling water from the kettle – so much faster. Poor table salt, it’s been forsaken for more delicate sea and kosher salts. But most table salt is iodized to prevent thyroid issues. For flavoring pasta and vegetable water, choose iodized table salt, saving the others for foods where the salt itself is ingested. More about my favorite salts.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 434 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 11mg Cholesterol; 402mg Sodium; 71g Carb; 13g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 21g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS (purple assumes whole-wheat pasta) Old Points 9 & PointsPlus 11 & SmartPoints 13 & Freestyle 8 & myWW green 11 & blue 8 & purple 3 & future WW points.

Pining for Pasta? More Quick Supper Ideas

~ pasta recipes ~
Sweet Pepper Pasta Skillet, another Quick Supper ♥, three colors of bell pepper plus corn, peas and fresh basil. Easy Weeknight Dinner. Budget Friendly.

Lemon Asparagus Pasta ♥, a classic for spring, fresh asparagus and bowties in a simple lemon cream sauce.

Quick Tomato Sauce for Pasta & Pizza ♥, just canned tomatoes plus pantry ingredients, ready in 20 minutes.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ broccoli recipes ~
~ lemon recipes ~
~ canned & dried bean recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2009, 2015, 2019 & 20222 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.