Hats and Broccoli

Broccoli...With Hat Shaped Pasta

Hats and Broccoli

What Is Hats and Broccoli?

Hats and Broccoli is a creamy, buttery Italian dish featuring orecchiette pasta, broccoli, chicken broth, and parmesan cheese. There are many interpretations of this recipe and, it’s even pronounced in different ways, such as “Broccoli & Hats”, “Hats With Broccoli”, or just “Orecchiette with Broccoli”. This is a dish that is popular in the Utica, New York area where they are all executed in a similar fashion.

Ingredients For Hats and Broccoli

Hats and Broccoli ingredients


2 Heads of Broccoli

2-3 Cloves of Garlic


1.5 Sticks of Butter

1/2 Cup of Half n Half

1/2 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese


1.5 Cups of Chicken Broth

16 oz of Orecchiette Pasta


1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Pepper

How To Make Hats and Broccoli

Step 1

Prep Produce



What makes this hats and broccoli recipe so easy yet satisfying is that it requires very few ingredients and effort, but is packed with tons of flavor that will warm your soul.


While hats and broccoli is probably not the most healthy because it’s mainly pasta and butter, I tell myself there are two ingredients that offer some health benefits which negate the carbs.


  • Broccoli – Broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is high in vitamins C and K, as well as dietary fiber and a variety of antioxidants. These nutrients have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer, improving heart health, and boosting the immune system. Additionally, broccoli is a good source of vitamin A and potassium, and it also contains small amounts of other essential vitamins and minerals. Eating broccoli may also aid in digestion and weight management.


  • Garlic – a widely used herb that is known not only for its strong flavor but also for its numerous health benefits. One of the most notable benefits of garlic is its ability to improve heart health. Garlic contains compounds such as allicin that can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and improve circulation.


Good enough for me!


First step is to cut your broccoli into small florets, and simply mince your garlic. You can cut your broccoli as small as you’d like, but since this is a pasta dish that does not include any protein in it, I like to keep the broccoli relatively big enough to make it seem like it’s a protein.


Different sizes of broccoli have been used to make different types of Hats and broccoli; thus, feel free to customize the recipe to your preference.

Step 2

Cook Pasta


Homemade hats pasta



If you have a local pasta shop nearby, check to see if they make this type of pasta to incorporate into the recipe. Fortunately for me, there is one pasta shop here in Utica that does a tremendous job with…well, everything they have to offer. Marias Pasta Shop has been around for over 20 years, and offers some of the best sauce, meatballs, Italian entree’s, and of course homemade pasta that you will ever try.


I used their homemade orecchiette (aka hats) to see how it compares with dry pasta you can buy from the store, and it just simply does not compare. Each noodle tastes so fluffy, doughy, and delicious that you can tell it was made from scratch.


Of course, if you aren’t lucky enough to have a local pasta shop nearby, just try and find this type of pasta at the grocery store, which isn’t always easy to find. Regardless, it won’t be a true hats and broccoli experience without getting your hands on some some orecchiette. Orecchiette is a type of pasta that is native to the region of Puglia in southern Italy. The name “orecchiette” means “little ears” in Italian, and the pasta is formed into small, disk-like shapes that resemble small ears.


Orecchiette is traditionally made with durum wheat flour and water, and it is often paired with heartier sauces, such as those made with meats, vegetables, and cheeses. Orecchiette is a popular type of pasta in Italy and is enjoyed all over the world for its unique shape, which is quite fun to refer to them as “hats”.

  • Boil Water
  • Add Pasta
  • Add 1 tsp salt
  • Add 1 tsp olive oil
  • Cook about 10-12 minutes, testing the texture of pasta to your liking.


Adding salt to pasta water enhances the flavor of the pasta, as it helps to season the pasta from the inside out. Adding the olive oil essentially give it a coat, provides a subtle flavor, and will help make it easy to drain the pasta when it’s done cooking.


Homemade Hats



Timing your sauce and cooked broccoli with the boiling of your orecchiette is important because you don’t want your pasta to sit out too long letting it dry out, become gummy, or clump together. Once you turn your stovetop to high and begin boiling your water, start your sauce.


Step 3

Make Sauce & Steam Broccoli 


Melted butter


Start by adding your 1.5 sticks of butter to a large skillet on low heat.


Minced garlic



Once melted, add the garlic to the skilled and keep the heat on low, moving the garlic around to fill the pan and let it cook down for 1-2 minutes. If you want more garlic, add additional cloves. This recipe is a little heavy on the garlic with 3 cloves, but your heart will appreciate the balance between butter and garlic.





Pour 1.5 cups of chicken broth into the pan and let that cook down for another 2-3 minutes.



Add the broccoli to the same pan, cover the skillet with a lid and let the broccoli cook for another 10 minutes on medium high heat. Most of the time when you steam broccoli, you do it with water. However, cooking broccoli in chicken broth instead of water can add flavor to the broccoli as it cooks.


The broth can infuse the broccoli with a savory, chicken-y flavor that can make it more enjoyable to eat. Additionally, cooking broccoli in broth can help to add moisture to the vegetable, which can help to prevent it from drying out or becoming overcooked.

Step 4

Add Cheese, Cream, & Pasta



Once broccoli is cooked, add in the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and stir thoroughly. Try to use some of the finer grated parmesan cheese you can find without breaking the bank. It really will make a difference in taste compared to just getting what kraft’s parmesan cheese.



Slowly pour and stir the 1/2 cup of half n half into the skillet.





Combine your cooked pasta to the pan and mix thoroughly. Add some more parmesan cheese, along with some salt and pepper as well.




Let the mixture simmer for a about 3 minutes to let all of the flavors come together within the pasta, stirring every minute or so.

Step 5

Enjoy Some Hats & Broccoli!



Hats and Broccoli


Scoop everything onto a plate and enjoy your homemade hats and broccoli!

The Prestige

The Prestige


Magician’s Hat


More About Hats and Broccoli

Homemade pasta isn’t something I do too often, so when I make a pasta dish such as hats and broccoli, I’m usually buying it frozen or dried.


Buying frozen pasta from somewhere like Marias Pasta Shop is convenient and can be stored for a long time, making it a great option for busy individuals who want to prepare a quick meal. It also holds its shape and texture better than dried pasta in dishes where the pasta is mixed with other ingredients, such as casseroles or soups.


Dried pasta, on the other hand, is a pantry staple that has a long shelf life and is typically less expensive than frozen pasta. It is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes and provides a firmer texture and toothier bite.


The most common carrier of dried orecchiette pasta that I’ve seen at the grocery store is from De Cecco.



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