Mustard-butter Broccoli Pasta

I have very particular feelings about condiments. These may verge a bit on condiment OCD.

Growing up, I refused to eat — in no particular order — mayo, mustard, relish, chutney. And mushrooms. Not a condiment, I know, but it was something I refused to eat. My burgers were dry except for ketchup and that was just fine with me. Except, oddly, McDonald’s hamburgers with their thin scraping of yellow mustard. Somehow that was OK with me.

Nowadays, things have relaxed slightly. I still ask for no mayo, if it’s just straight-up, out-of-the-jar, spread. Bring on the pesto, lemon, dill, herb, curry variations. I won’t go out of my way to add relish or mustard, but I enjoy them on my burger. (Oh god, when I decided to finally try a White Spot burger — the real ones from B.C., not these faux Alberta versions —and had the Triple O sauce? Damn, that is good condiment.)

(Ketchup is good, but belongs only on fries, hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages. That is all.)

And the turning point may have been Mustard-butter Broccoli Pasta.

Until I had this, I was certain I didn’t like Dijon mustard. I was wrong. Oh, so, very wrong.


This is a wonderful summer pasta, partly because of the bright colour and fresh taste, but also because it requires but one pot. And, if you’re quick on the ball and plan ahead, you can use the summer heat to soften butter, which is one of the “sauce” ingredients. Of course, if you’re a bit forgetful (like me), there is always the microwave. That said, softening the butter naturally is much tastier. (Full disclosure: I have used Becel to make this and it’s still good.)

My Mum first made this many, many years ago, then photocopied it for me while I lived for a summer in Kitimat with her own notes neatly written out in red pen. And this recipe has become one of those comfort ones that has followed me as I lived in teeny-tiny towns across B.C., slogging my way through jobs at teeny-tiny newspapers, and over to Japan where I lived for a year. Sure, finding Dijon was tricky, but it was doable. And, more importantly, it was worth it.

I like to use penne with this because then it’s super easy to eat, plus the penne rigate’s ridges pick up more sauce. Of course, the big carriers are the broccoli spears; they become sponges for the mustard-butter sauce. And, frankly, I’ll use whatever pasta I have on hand. Case in point: tonight’s dinner was farfalle.

Mustard-butter sauce

All in the pot together

Mustard-butter Broccoli Pasta

I’ve made some changes from the original recipe, so this is the version as I make it.

Mustard-butter Broccoli Pasta

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tbsp. Dijon mustard (I use generic — gasp! — Safeway brand. I like it better than Grey Poupon.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I use my lovely, lovely rasp.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs (chives, parsley or green onion tops), about 4 tbsp. total (And if I don’t have them, I don’t worry about it.)
  • 2 or 3 cups broccoli florets, from two crowns
  • 3/4 pound pasta

Let the butter soften, then mix in the mustard, herbs and pepper. Check for seasonings before adding more salt. Set a huge pot of water on the stove to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, season liberally with salt, then add the pasta. Cut the broccoli florets off the stem and set aside. When the pasta is about two or three minutes from being cooked to al dente, throw in the broccoli and stir to let it cook with the pasta. Drain when the pasta is tender and the broccoli is still green. Throw back into the pot and stir in the mustard-butter mixture. The heat from the cooked pasta and broccoli will melt the butter mixture. Check for seasonings and serve.

Note: I usually hold back some of the mustard-butter. Often you won’t need all of it. But when I put away the leftovers in containers, I spoon a bit of the mixture on top. That way, when you reheat it the next day (or whenever) in the microwave, it’s still a bit saucy.

  33 comments for “Mustard-butter Broccoli Pasta

  1. Katherine O'Neill
    July 10, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Yum! Great recipe (s). Who helps you eat all your creations?

  2. little sister
    July 10, 2008 at 10:03 am

    why do i not remember mum ever making this? could this be the first thing in life i have forgotten? i think i’m getting old.

  3. patentandthepantry
    July 10, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Katherine, sadly, no one. Which means I’ll be eating this pasta for the following three days. It’s a tough life. : )

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  4. July 10, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    This does look good. We’ll try it next week.

  5. July 11, 2008 at 5:04 am

    I’ve been plagued by recipes involving Dijon mustard the whole week, I kid you not. And after seeing your enticing pasta, I think I need to get me a jar :P

  6. Toy Lady
    July 30, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I just stumbled on your blog. . . this looks fabulous! And, as it happens, I have a couple of lonely crowns of broccoli in the fridge. . . some homemade dijon-style mustard AND a garden bursting with herbage. . . I think I’m about to become a regular visitor here!

  7. July 30, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I clipped this because I did not want to forget. This is one of those the-sum-is-greater-than-its-parts recipe. I don’t doubt for a moment that these simple ingredients would be transformed into a spectacular dish. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. gkbloodsugar
    August 19, 2008 at 5:25 am

    This is exactly the kind of thing that I could happily eat for Dinner, every single night.

    Good going!

  9. August 19, 2008 at 7:27 am

    You just made my dinner tonight! I’ll also pass this over to my mum because it looks directly up her alley. Thanks so very much!

  10. August 19, 2008 at 10:49 am

    An easy but delicious recipe! I can’t wait to try this – I’m always looking for side dishes (although I could probably eat this as a main dish!)

  11. August 19, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Nice….anything is better with a bit of Dijon..generic or not!!!

  12. August 19, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    wow…a great twist to try on pasta!

  13. Mike
    August 21, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Oh really? You worry about condiments all the time, so that it interrupts your life?

    I’m tired of people co-opting OCD like it’s cute. It’s not cute or fun for people who have it, like me. Please stop using it casually.

    • Claire
      February 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

      Go get a life for heavens sake. I have OCD too, its not cancer, get over yourself.

  14. September 12, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Hi! I just came across your site, and first of all I just wanted to complement you on the beautiful pictures you take! I just started my own food blog, and although my pictures are decent (or borrowed from other sites), I love how yours seem to tell a story as you’re cooking.

    Also, I have a huge crown of broccoli in the fridge, and I’ve been wondering what to make with it – I’ll be sure to try this recipe – I hope it turns out half as good as yours looks! Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. December 28, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Just made this. So, so good. Thank you.

  16. lonebaker
    March 13, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    This recipe is fantastic. It has taken the place of our former broccoli and pasta recipe. YUM! Our pasta of choice is orecchiette, loads of little broccoli florets and all of the sauce. Again, yum.

  17. April 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Oooh, this sounds really good! I wonder, could you eat it as a cold salad too?

  18. patentandthepantry
    April 26, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Hi Rachelle, it’s not bad cold, but not quite as good because the butter sauce hardens. Still, worth a try!

    • Sandi
      November 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

      I wonder if you could saute some diced chicken tenders to add to the pot. It’s sound like something we’d love, but you know most men…they have to have meat in it or it’s not dinner.

      • patentandthepantry
        November 9, 2009 at 10:22 am

        Sandi, absolutely! I’ve added slices of cooked chicken with great success.

  19. hazelmay
    February 5, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Hi there,

    Love the recipes on your website. :)

    I love brocoli and dijon mustard so this is a perfect harmony of both.

    But can I reduce the amount of butter, half a cup does sound like alot.

    Please advice.

    Hazel :)

    • patentandthepantry
      February 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

      Hi Hazel!
      You can absolutely reduce the butter, which is something my mum does when she makes this recipe. I would go down to 1/3 cup and see what you think. I just probably wouldn’t do much less than 1/4 because it does need to cover 3/4 pound of pasta and the broccoli. However, it’s really up to your own taste. Keep experimenting until you find the amount you are comfortable with.

      • hazelmay
        April 5, 2010 at 4:17 am

        Oh thank you for clarifying about the reduction in butter. I just realised I am not used to measurements in pound. How much is 3/4 pounds of pasta? Please advice. Thanks! :)


        • patentandthepantry
          April 8, 2010 at 11:29 am

          Hazel, 3/4 pounds of pasta is about 340 grams. I usually buy my pasta in 500 gram boxes, so it would be about 3/4 of that. I hope that helps!

  20. March 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I have made this dish twice before. I absolutely love it! I am making it again tonight and will be adding some chicken. I will also try the suggestion to reduce the butter. There can never be enough Dijon!


    -Laura T

  21. Christine
    April 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I know it’s, like, a year after the fact, but I just made this pasta and it is divine! I cut down the butter and added more broccoli to make myself feel all good and healthy about indulging in pasta. ;)

    PS: Rumor around BC is that White Spot’s “secret sauce” is mayo + ketchup + hamburger relish!

  22. Emily
    April 18, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Joel and I had this for dinner last night and thought of you! Thanks for the awesome recipe. I love searching your site when I need ideas. :)

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