What that means of course is that it's necessary to change things up and mix in a variety of sauces and flavors. After all we can't really eat pasta and tomato sauce everyday.
One of my all time favorite pasta dishes is pasta e broccoli. My mamma always made it when I was growing up so not only is it super delicious but also a little reminder of home. Since produce is always seasonal around here, this is a dish that I usually only get to eat about for about 3 months out of the year but it's a perfect winter meal. Nice and hot and super filling.
I do things a little differently then Mamma Jo and Mamma Finetta (my Italian MIL). There are many different ways of making this dish, for example my mom usually boils the broccoli for about 5 minutes and leaves it a little al dente, whereas my MIL boils it until its super soft and then throws it in the blender and makes broccoli sauce of sorts. Me? I prefer it somewhere in the middle. The tips get soft and tend to melt when I mix them in with the hot pasta but the stems still have a slight crunch to them.
So here is my version. When I cook I never measure. I think this is pretty standard in most home cooked Italian meals. I know my mother never measures anything. So my version will consist of 'a little of this and a few of these'
Ingredients: (This makes 2 LARGE portions)
1 large bunch of broccoli (I like to use fresh, but frozen would work just as well)
3-4 garlic cloves (more or less if you prefer)
about 250g of short Pasta such as pene, farfalle, or fussili
Parmigiano Reggiano, as much or as little as you like
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt to taste
So the first thing I do is break the broccoli into smaller pieces and rinse. Then boil a large pot of water add a pinch of salt and throw the broccoli in. Depending on how you like your broccoli cooked, leave to boil anywhere from 5-12 minutes.
|Boil your pasta in the same pot after you remove your broccoli to absorb more flavor!|
Next break off 3-4 garlic cloves and smash the skin off with a large chopping knife, then chop garlic into chucks. Heat some olive oil in a separate pan and brown the garlic, but be careful not to burn it. When your broccoli is to the desired tenderness, transfer it with a slotted spoon into the pan with the garlic and saute. You may want to add a little of the water to the saute pan to keep it from drying out, I usually do. Next, while still occasionally stirring your broccoli, throw the pasta in the same water that you used to boil the broccoli. This is going to add some extra broccoli flavor to your pasta so its very important not to throw this water away. Grate some of that Parmigiano and mix it in with the broccoli, this also usually where I add a bit of salt to my broccoli too. And finally, just before the pasta is fully cooked, if your broccoli looks like its drying out, grab a ladle and add a bit of the water and mix it in. Drain your pasta and combine it with the broccoli. Top it off with the rest of the Parmigiano.
|I like lots of cheese on mine so I usually grate up a good amount!|
|And there it is! A delicious, hot healthy home cooked lunch! (or dinner)|