Recipes For Grandkids

Some Trees Please! Pasta, broccoli, and cheese

A cheesy delight featuring twirly pasta and broccoli trees will surely be a hit with your grandkids. It only takes 30 minutes to make and is easy, delicious, and nutritious. What more can you ask in a meal for your loved ones?

Cook’s Tip:  Any pasta works. When you make pasta, save some of the pasta water and add it to the sauce. The starch in the water will thicken the sauce and help it adhere better to the pasta. Roasting the spices in bacon fat helps release their flavor and makes them more aromatic.

Servings: 6  |  Prep Time: 5 minutes  |  Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 5 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 slices bacon 
  • 2 heads broccoli (about 1½ lbs.)
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 cup grated)
  • 1 ounces Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup grated)
  • 1 pounds Cavatappi pasta (Cavatappi is the Italian word for corkscrew)  
  • 1 teaspoons black pepper
  • ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons butter


  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt to the pot.
  2. Dice bacon and cook in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat for 8–10 minutes or until crisp.
  3. Remove the bacon from the pan, leave the bacon fat in the pan.
  4. Slice broccoli into florets, leaving the stem to resemble trees. 
  5. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and slice with cut-side down. 
  6. Grate Romano and Parmesan cheeses with a fine grater. 
  7. Carefully add pasta and cook, uncovered, for 1 minute fewer than the instructions on the box, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add black pepper, red pepper flakes, and sliced garlic to the skillet with bacon fat. 
  9. Cook over medium heat for 30 seconds or until spices and garlic are fragrant.
  10. Add the broccoli and tomatoes to the skillet and cook for 4–5 minutes.
  11. Carefully drain pasta with a colander, reserving 1 cup, and transfer it to a skillet.
  12. Use a ladle to add 1 cup of pasta water to the skillet.
  13. Add cooked bacon, cheese, and butter to the skillet.
  14. Simmer over medium heat. Stir continuously until the cheese is melted, and the pasta water slightly thickens.

Jaimie Johnson, Pampered Chef

Jaimie Johnson, “Chef Jaimie”, shares the art of cooking, baking, and entertaining with friends and families everywhere. She has 18 years in the food industry. Johnson enjoys teaching baking and decorating techniques. She also enjoys teaching about making healthy meals in a hurry, assembling time-saving meal prep in her workshops, and creating the perfect party and bridal shower experiences with her Pampered Chef business. When she is not cooking, Johnson has a full-time marketing career with a well-known travel company and enjoys spending time with her family, including her new puppy, Ace. For more fun recipes, check out her blog at:

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