With Garlic and Chile Flakes
Basically, I’m still in the same food mode I was when I wrote about the savory tarts (and still making a lot of them!). Some days I feel like experimenting, and I have been working on a few new recipes, and trying a few others. But many days, I’m in the mood to make something that won’t take forever, and that I know I’ll like. Like this! Broccoli appeared in our CSA store a couple of weeks ago, and I know Bryan likes it, so I always get some when it’s there. This is one of my favorite ways to eat it. Add a salad, and you have dinner. It’s quick enough that I will even bother making it for lunch, if there aren’t enough leftovers in the fridge.
Simple Broccoli Pasta with Garlic and Chile Flakes
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
For dinner-size portions for two, start with two small or one large head of broccoli. My second favorite thing about this recipe is that when I found it, I learned how to cook and eat the broccoli stems—it always seemed like a waste to just compost them. The stems just take a bit longer to cook than the florets. Cut off the florets, and cut them into about equal pieces. Slice the stem into fairly thin rounds (leave out any of the bottom that seems too tough or stringy), and then dice up the slices.
Boil some water, to cook the pasta. I like the deep nutty flavors of whole wheat or spelt noodles here, but then I like them with just about anything. Use whatever kind of noodles you like. For any even simpler gluten-free option, leave out the noodles all together, and serve the broccoli as a side. The broccoli only takes a few minutes to cook, so you may want to cook the noodles first. While you’re waiting you can mince a little garlic (I use about 1 small clove per head of broccoli) and grate some Parmesan, or other hard aged cheese of your choice.
To cook the broccoli, you will need a pan with a lid. I keep a terrible, ancient skillet around because it’s the same size as my favorite one, and therefore functions as a convenient lid. Add a generous amount of olive oil to the pan, and heat over medium. When the oil is hot, add the chopped bits of broccoli stem, and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the florets. Stir, so that they all get a bit of oil, then pour in a splash of white wine if you have it, or water if you don’t, and cover the pan.
After a couple of minutes, lift off the lid. The broccoli will have turned bright green. At this point you want it to be slightly less done than your desired finished dish, taste some and see. I like it about as far towards raw as I can get and still call it cooked. When the broccoli is almost as done as you’d like, add the minced garlic and hot chile flakes to taste. It can be subtle or spicy.
Let the garlic and chile cook for a minute or so, stirring with the broccoli. The pan lid should be off at this point, to let any remaining liquid evaporate. Turn of the heat, and add the cooked drained noodles to the pan, along with a little of the grated cheese. Stir everything together, and add a bit more olive oil and/or cheese if it seems too dry.
That’s it! Serve with a bit more grated cheese on top.