Pasta and broccoli is a delicious vegetarian dish that reminds me of being a kid. My mom was a busy workingwoman like most of us today, so this was a simple meal she could whip up after a day at work.
I love the rich flavor of the garlic and oil over the short little pasta. There is something special about simple food like this. Just crisp clean flavors without any fuss.
You can use any type of macaroni for this but we always used small pasta. The Orecchiette or “little hats” like my Aunt Jeanie always called them are my favorite. I think the translation in Italian means “ear” but whatever the meaning, I love the way they catch and hold the sauce. It’s like ever bit has its own little cup.
1. To get started you will want to add your garlic and oil to the pot with a little red pepper flakes and sauté. After sauteeing your garlic for a couple of minutes, you’ll also add your broccoli (shown here).
2. Once the broccoli and pasta are cooked (follow instructions below) you combine them all back in the same pot with some of the pasta water and the butter.
3. Mix well and place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a good amount of cheese. Give it a taste and see if it needs some salt and pepper. I like to serve the hot pepper and extra cheese on the side so that people can add extra spice or cheese if they like.
Why not try this simple Italian treasure tonight?
- 1 pound cavatelli, orecchiette or shells
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a little extra to drizzle at the end
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 pound fresh broccoli florets, you can use frozen but I prefer fresh
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes,
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Fill a large pot with about 4-6 quarts of water and a big handful of salt. See video for how to salt water when making pasta. Turn on high so it will begin to boil. While pasta water is heating up start the sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until garlic is golden. If it gets too hot turn down the heat or remove the pan. You don’t want to burn the garlic. If it burns it will taste bitter.
Once the garlic is lightly browned add the broccoli and toss well to coat with the oil and garlic. Turn down the heat a little and add the chicken stock and the butter. Cover and cook about 8 minutes until the broccoli is slightly tender but not soft and mushy. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook pasta according to the package directions making sure to keep it al dente.
Definition: Al dente refers to the desired texture of cooked pasta in Italian cooking. It literally means “to the tooth”. When the pasta is cooked al dente, there should be a slight resistance in the center when the pasta is chewed. You want it to be firm but not hard, and never overcooked or mushy.
Once pasta is cooked add a ladle full of the pasta water to the pot with the broccoli and then drain the pasta. Toss it in with the broccoli and mix well. Remove from pot and place in serving bow. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste.Print