Nights are getting longer and colder, and that means dinners are getting a little heartier and warmer. Since I was in a St. Louis state of mind yesterday, I thought about pasta con broccoli, made popular by the Pasta House Company. It’s a soothing winter dish; carb-laden and rich with a pretty pale orange sauce. A friend used to work there and claims she copied this from the kitchen wall. It’s one of those things that I’ve held on to for . . . 25 years??? Really?

The original recipe is listed first; I made it as written and thought it definitely needed to be upscaled a little bit. Skip down a bit for my remake. Oh, and since I’m not a big broccoli fan I used asparagus instead. Both green and crunchy, right? And since you can’t have pasta con broccoli without the classic Pasta House Salad, that recipe is at the bottom.

Here’s a winter meal that’s family and kid-friendly, healthy (enough), and vegetarian. You can EASILY use gluten-free noodles. Happy eats!

Pasta Con Broccoli – original


    1/2 lb shell mac noodles
    1/2 stick butter
    2 c half and half
    1 – 8oz can tomato sauce
    1 pkg frozen broccoli
    1/2 lb mushrooms
    1 c. grated parmesan
    1-1/2 tsp garlic powder

Cook shells and drain. Cook broccoli and drain. Saute mushrooms in butter. Mix all ingredients together and simmer over low heat. Add salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. (need LOTS).
Refrigerate. Heat before serving – 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pasta con broccoli – my remake

serves roughly 4


  • 1 pkg small shell noodles
  • 3 tbsp grapeseed (or olive) oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 pound asparagus, washed and shopped into 1/4-inch rounds (ok, you can use broccoli if you’d rather)
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, washed and minced
  • 1 pint 2% milk (feel free to use the milk or cream of your choice)
  • 8 ounce can no-salt tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a pasta pot, bring salted water to a rapid boil and cook noodles until they are just al dente.

While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a dutch oven, add garlic and onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add asparagus (or broccoli) and mushrooms and cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Drain the noodles and add directly to the vegetables. Stir gently. Pour in the milk, tomato sauce, and 1 cup parmesan cheese. Heat on medium, stirring frequently. Add a bit more milk and/or cheese to evenly coat all the noodles and vegetables without being too saucy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on warm plates sprinkled generously with parmesan cheese. Perfect with the signature Pasta House Salad:

Pasta House Salad:

A classic. This is just a fantastic salad, any time of year. It’s also pretty, with the ribbons of purple onion and specks of red pimiento against the different shades of green lettuces. I almost always serve this at our pizza parties and get kudos for the great flavor combination and all over salad creativity . . . of course, no one here in California has ever been to a Pasta House.

This will serve roughly 4.

In a salad bowl, toss together:

  • 1/2 head of lettuce and 1 small head romaine, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 small jar pimientos
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 head romaine


Pour 1/4 cup red wine vinegar into a glass. Add 1 tsp salt and stir until dissolved. Add 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Stir, then pour in 1/4 cup good quality olive oil. Just before adding to the salad, give it a good shake or stir.

Add dressing to the salad. Toss until coated. Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and toss well. Serve immediately.