Sunday, July 24, 2011

here's to the little guys

Oh broccoli, how I love you.  When I was little (more little than I am now that is) I used to call broccoli "little trees." Well, here we have the amazing union of "little trees" and "little ears", which in Italian is orecchiette.  Go ahead, impress your friends at a party with your knowledge of Italian.  "My what orecchiette you have!"  For some reason I can't fathom, recipes involving broccoli and pasta almost always call for using orecchiette pasta.  Whatever the reason, it's tasty.  Here, I'm going a wee bit traditional: just pasta, parmesan, broccoli, garlic and red pepper flakes. 

You'll need 2 smallish heads of broccoli or 1 large one.  Cut the florets into bite-sized pieces (and I also do the same with about 1'' of the stalk).  

Toss on a baking sheet with 2 cloves of roughly chopped (so it doesn't burn) garlic and about 1/4 c of evoo (you need a bit more than you think because you don't want those precious little trees to dry out roasting -- like every tree in Texas is right now).  Also add about 1 T of salt, 1 tsp of pepper and maybe 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes (see pic).  You can add more of this if you like a little extra heat.

Roast at 400ºF/204ºC for about 20 minutes, until tender and a bit caramelized, giving it a little mix halfway through.  While your little trees are all happy in the oven, get workin' on those little ears.  Add about 12 ounces of pasta (3/4 of the package) into salted boiling water, stirring to prevent sticking and cook until very al dentre (firm to the bite), about 10 minutes.  Before you drain it, be sure and reserve about a cup of the starchy cooking water. You'll be amazed what it'll do in making an easy sauce.

Now comes the fun part!  Toss your pasta, roasted broccoli and garlic together with about 1/3 c parmesan cheese (it's okay, you can grate it this time).  When adding the cooking water, add about 1/2 c first and then more if it needs it to form a light sauce.  And for a bit of decadence...

 ...throw in 2 T of butter.  Taste and season with more s&p and pepper flakes as needed.  I definitely needed a bit more salt & red pepper flakes (but I like a little kick).  Because my pasta was so al dente, I was able to keep it cooking with the broccoli, cheese and butter for about 5 minutes, which just intensified the flavor.

 That's it!  You can have it as a nice simple supper with some extra parm shaved on top or... can have it with quick pan-seared tilapia like I did.  Either way, it's fantastic.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking this one might be good with milk instead of pasta water, might make it a little more creamy and hearty. Also, I bought my first package of orecchiette!