The first thing you should note about this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is that I didn’t write “Orecchiette con Broccoli/Cime di Rapa.” Why is that important?
Because all those fancy Italian words would mean that we’re making a traditional dish from Puglia, Italy’s heel. As it is, what I offer below diverges greatly from that recipe — go to Judith in Umbria for the real deal, the one with anchovies. Yum!
And to see orecchiette (pasta shaped like little ears), head over to Michellanea.
On the bright side, no matter how you make it, it’s yet another fast, easy, and tasty dish, and you know how much we like those around here.
Fun Italian fact before we get to the good stuff? Broccoli is an Italian word, so here’s at least one thing you can order when you come even if you don’t speak the language.
Pasta with Broccoli
Bunch of broccoli, about 8 oz. worth, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-3 peperoncini depending on your tastes, chopped
Salt to taste
Short pasta of your choice, such as penne shown above
Pecorino Romano to garnish (optional)
1. First clean the broccoli and put it in a pot of salted boiling water. Let it cook for about 8 minutes so that it’s still a bit crunchy. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside. Don’t discard the water.In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. After you’ve removed the broccoli, bring water back to a boil and then add pasta.
3. Now you can start the sauce by heating olive oil over medium heat and then adding garlic. Fry it for a few minutes, let it brown but (unlike Usher) don’t let it burn. Then add peperoncini and let fry for another minute or so.
4. By this time your pasta should be almost done, so you can add the broccoli to the pan and mix well with the other ingredients. Also add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Remember you don’t want the broccoli to cook too much more; it doesn’t need to be in there long.
5. When the pasta is al dente, drain and toss with sauce, taking out the garlic first if you like. I usually do because neither of us likes to eat the cloves.
6. Serve hot and garnish with grated Pecorino Romano cheese (and extra peperoncino if you can handle it!) at the table.
Seasonal eating and the awesome, fresh, organic produce that I can get from our own garden, from my neighbors, from P’s family, and from our markets. I eat so much healthier here than I ever did in the States, and a big part of that is just how good, available, and affordable the produce is here.
And I love that there’s a time of year for everything and that’s when we eat it. I was just complaining to Amanda at Figs, Olives, Wine the other day that we hadn’t gotten any good broccoli yet, and then it appeared at the market the next morning.
You see, I’m craving it because late fall/early winter is when we can have it–the only time we can have it. So now we’ll eat it for a good month, two months maybe, get sick of it and quickly become enamored with a newly in-season vegetable or type of bean or whatever.
It’s amazing how easily your body falls into a natural eating rhythm when it’s not inundated with choices, and I think this is a good thing. I know that I appreciate broccoli, for instance, so much more because I can’t have it all the time.
And for all of these things, I am thankful.