Bowties and Broccoli

$3.50 recipe / $0.58 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.79 from 37 votes
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One of the things I’ve learned about eating on a budget is that simple recipes win. The fewer ingredients you need, the fewer ingredients you need to buy, and that generally helps keep that grocery bill low (not to mention, it makes cooking easy). So, when I was planning for the first week of my September Challenge, my favorite dinner “cheat” recipe came to mind. Bowties and Broccoli, FTW.

Overhead view of a bowl full of bowties and broccoli

Use Any Shape Pasta

But just to be clear, you can use any shaped pasta for this dish. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use whatever pasta you have on hand, so it’s that one meal option that I always have the ingredients for on hand.

As I mentioned, this is my favorite substitute for “real” dinner when I’m tired and hungry. I usually have all these ingredients on hand and it only takes minutes to throw together. Sometimes, I’ll boil extra pasta, freeze the leftovers in single serving freezer bags, then I can just toss the frozen pasta and broccoli into a bowl and microwave for a minute or two until hot. Then it’s even faster than fast! Either way, these few ingredients make an incredibly tasty, filling, and easy meal on the fly. #winning

Make Six Servings or One Serving

The quantities on the recipe card below are for six servings of the Bowties and Broccoli. I generally make one serving at a time. To find the quantities for one serving, scroll down to the step by step photos.

Side view of a bowl full of bowties and broccoli
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Bowties and Broccoli

4.79 from 37 votes
This insanely simple dinner "cheat" is ready in minutes and will keep you full for hours. Bowties and Broccoli is my go-to lazy weeknight dinner.
Servings 6
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 15 minutes


  • 12 oz. pasta ($1.00)
  • 1 lb. frozen broccoli florets ($1.69)
  • 3 Tbsp butter ($0.30)
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan ($0.31)
  • Salt to taste ($0.05)
  • Freshly cracked pepper to taste ($0.10)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.05)


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta. Boil until the pasta is al dente (7-10 minutes). Add the frozen broccoli florets to the boiling pasta water, turn off the heat, and let sit for 1-2 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender-crisp. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  • Transfer the pasta and broccoli back to the pot (with the heat off) or to a bowl and add the butter. Toss until the butter has melted and coated everything. Add the Parmesan, salt, freshly cracked pepper, and red pepper flakes, then toss to coat again. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve immediately.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 294.78kcalCarbohydrates: 47.47gProtein: 10.88gFat: 7.35gSodium: 250.55mgFiber: 4.5g
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How to Make Bowties and Broccoli – Step by Step Photos

Bowties and Broccoli Ingredients side by side

It always amazes me how just a couple of ingredients can make such a satisfying meal. This really is SO simple and SO good. I keep these ingredients stocked and eat this often. This is all I need for about six servings (not all of the butter, Parm, and pepper were used for six servings).

nutrition label on package of bowties

If you’re making one serving at a time, you can either estimate 1/6th of the bag of pasta, or check the back to see if it gives a volume of dry pasta for the serving size. The measurement will change depending on the shape of the pasta, but for this bowtie shape 1/6th of the bag is roughly 3/4 cup. So that helps me keep serving sizes in check.

Pasta and broccoli in a sauce pot full of water

First bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta. Boil the pasta just until it’s tender (7-10 minutes). Once tender, add the frozen broccoli (estimate an equal volume to the pasta) directly to the pot and turn off the heat. Let it sit for a minute or two, or just until the broccoli is slightly tender, but has a bit of crunch left and is still bright green. If you prefer your broccoli a lot softer, you can leave the heat on for a minute or so and let it continue to boil, but I prefer mine to still have some tooth.

Pasta and broccoli in a colander

Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

Butter added to hot pasta and broccoli in the bowl

Transfer the drained pasta and broccoli to a bowl, or back to the cooking pot (with the heat off). Add 1/2 Tbsp butter for each serving you’re preparing, then toss until the butter melts and coats everything.

Parmesan, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper added to the bowl

Once everything is coated in melted butter, sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp grated Parmesan for each serving, plus salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (if desired). 

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of bowties and broccoli, on a zig zag napkin

Toss briefly again so that everything is coated in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Easy, enjoyable, and just over 50 cents per bowl! 


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  1. Times are tough right now so I went looking for cheap eats. I found Bowties and Broccoli and made it tonight. WOW!!! So good. I live alone and this is perfect to make for one.

  2. I can’t wait to try this mixed with shrimp and sundried tomatoes sautéed in butter and garlic. Yummy! That’s going to be my dinner tomorrow. Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. I cut up a couple of ham steaks and add it to this dish. My family loves this!

  4. I wanted to love this because of the simplicity, but I just couldn’t. It lacks flavor, even with an abundance of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

  5. I love this recipe I would make it weekly if I could its so simple and cheap yet so delish

  6.  I’m about to make a batch for the week, I know you said I could freeze it,  but can I just refrigerate it? Because  I’ll definitely be digging into it often : )