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Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta

This broccoli rabe pancetta pasta comes together fast, and is full of garlicky flavor, salty pancetta, and earthy broccoli rabe all tossed together with pasta.

Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta in a skillet.

Looking for a hearty pasta dish to feed a hungry family on a weeknight? Or maybe you need a special dinner for two?

This broccoli rabe pancetta pasta is perfect for both! 

Salty and savory pancetta, with earthy garlic, and bitter broccoli rabe, all tossed together with fruity olive oil and your favorite pasta, and dinner is served!

This dish is not only super delicious, but it’s also super simple to prepare. 

You’ll have dinner ready in no time with this garlic pancetta broccoli rabe pasta!

Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta ingredients list.

Ingredients for broccoli rabe pancetta pasta

  • Olive oil – This is the fat of choice for our dish, try to use a fruity good quality olive oil here.
  • Garlic – Fresh is best! Garlic will add a classic earthy flavor to our dish.
  • Pancetta – Pancetta will give our pasta little salty savory crunchy bits throughout. 
  • Blanched broccoli rabe – Broccoli rabe is a slightly bitter green.
  • Parmesan cheese – Parmesan cheese will add a salty and savory bite.
  • Pasta – Feel free to use your favorite variety of pasta in this dish!
Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta in a round skillet.

How do you blanch broccoli rabe?

When you blanch any green, you’re basically putting it in boiling water very briefly, about 1 minute, and then immediately dunking it in a bowl of ice water. 

This cold ice water will stop the cooking process, so your greens will stay bright and tender-crisp, and won’t get brown and mushy.

Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta served with extra pancetta.

What’s the difference between bacon and pancetta?

Both products are cured pork, but bacon is smoked, and pancetta is not. 

And often, pancetta has black pepper and garlic added to it, so it has a little extra flavor going on.

If you can’t find Pancetta at your local grocery store, no worries! Feel free to substitute bacon instead.

Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta in a skillet.

What kind of pasta to use?

I like using orecchiette pasta, but here are some other great shapes that would be delicious in this dish:

  • Penne
  • Rigatoni
  • Fusilli
  • Farfalle 

Adding additional protein

If you’re looking to bulk this recipe up with more protein some great options are grilled chicken breast, pulled rotisserie chicken, grilled or sauteed shrimp, or even serving it alongside a perfectly cooked steak – like my Cast Iron Seared Strip Steak or my Lemon Herb Butter Pan Fried Ribeye.

Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta served with Parmesan cheese.

Storage and leftovers

Any leftover broccoli rabe pancetta pasta can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

To reheat, simply place in a microwave-safe dish covered loosely with a damp paper towel and heat for 2-3 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta on a black plate.

More pasta dishes

Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta

Author: Brandy O’Neill – Nutmeg Nanny
This broccoli rabe pancetta pasta comes together fast, full of garlicky flavor, salty pancetta, and earthy broccoli rabe all tossed together with pasta.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe about 1-1/2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound dried pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound diced pancetta
  • 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper to taste


  • Wash your broccoli rabe, remove the bottom 1/3 of your broccoli rabe, and cut into 2-inch chunks.
  • Add a large pot of water to the stovetop and set on high heat.
  • When the water is boiling add in the chopped broccoli rabe and let it simmer in the water for 1 minute or until the broccoli rabe is bright green.
  • Immediately remove the broccoli rabe from the water, and into the bowl of ice water, but leave the water boiling on the stove. We are using this water for the pasta.
  • Let your blanched broccoli rabe cool in the ice bath while you start to prepare the pasta.
  • Add your kosher salt to your boiling water and add your pasta. Cook your pasta according to the al dente box directions. When your pasta is ready to be drained reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • As your pasta cooks start preparing your pancetta.
  • Add your olive oil to a large high-sided 12-inch skillet and set over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot add your pancetta and start to brown.
  • While your pancetta browns and crisps drain your broccoli rabe and set it aside.
  • After your pancetta is crispy and the fat has rendered add lower the heat to medium-low and add in your sliced garlic cloves.
  • Saute for about 30 seconds to toast the garlic and release the flavors.
  • Remove from the heat and add in cooked and drained pasta, Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper.
  • Add some of the reserved pasta water to help moisten the pasta if it is dry.
  • Taste and season with the desired amount of kosher salt and black pepper.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 2027mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Keyword broccoli rabe pasta, easy pasta, easy summer pasta, pancetta and broccoli rabe, pancetta pasta, pasta with broccoli rabe
Did you try this recipe?Leave a comment and 5 star review!
Broccoli Rabe Pancetta Pasta pin for Pinterest.

About Brandy!

I am a food lover and recipe developer bringing you delicious recipes that taste great and are easy to make! My food is inspired by travels around the world and my love of flavorful food. A list of things that make me happy: cats, Coke Zero, houseplants, and travel. Read more...

Recipe Rating


Monday 19th of June 2023

Love the flavor combos in this tasty pancetta pasta dish! Thanks for the recipe!


Monday 19th of June 2023

This was an easy and delicious meal! My husband and I really loved this recipe!


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