Friday, February 12, 2010

Broccoli Pasta

This is one of my son's most requested recipes -  Broccoli Pasta.  It all came about at the farmer's market when I told him that he needed to pick out the vegetable that we would cook that night.  And the winner was...broccoli!  We headed home and I searched for an intriguing recipe with broccoli as the star.  I found a recipe for Penne with Broccoli and thought we would give it a go.  Even though he personally picked the funny looking green trees, I knew this dish had to have another component that he also enjoyed, which is pasta.  

Interestingly, in this recipe, the broccoli is cooked down so much, that it really doesn't even look like broccoli anymore.  I equate it to a pesto consistency, but with broccoli instead of basil.  
After heating up about 1/4 cup of olive oil, you add garlic, chopped broccoli, salt, pepper, and a touch of red chili pepper flakes.  I use less chili flakes than the recipe calls for since Ryan is not a huge fan of spicy foods.  You could probably add as little as a pinch, or as much as 1/2 teaspoon.  As it simmers, the broccoli slowly transforms into a muted green pesto-like sauce.  This dish isn't the prettiest since the normal bright green broccoli color quickly fades away as it cooks down, but don't let that fool you, the taste is amazing!  A final touch of Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese and it is literally our new comfort food. 

Broccoli Pasta (adapted slightly from Sunset Magazine)

1 1/2 lbs broccoli florets
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a little extra as needed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes (or to taste)
About 1/2 tsp salt
About 1/4 tsp pepper
12 ounces dried penne or bowtie pasta
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Rinse broccoli, trim and discard stem ends.  Coarsely chop tops and stems.  In a 5-6 quart pan over medium heat, stir olive oil and garlic often until it sizzles.  They stir in broccoli, chili flakes, salt, pepper, and about 1/2 cup of water.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until broccoli is very soft and mashes easily with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan if the broccoli threatens to scorch.  Drizzle in additional olive oil, as needed, to achieve desired consistency.  

Meanwhile, cook pasta, drain, and then add to broccoli mixture along with the cheese and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

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