[Photograph: Blake Royer]
File this one under “Italian recipes so simple you’d almost overlook them.” In the family of spaghetti with oil and garlic or with chile and anchovies is this pasta with broccoli. Under certain circumstances like, say, a harried weeknight or even a contemplative Sunday afternoon, anything more involved just seems needlessly complicated.
What really works with the famous pasta e broccoli is that if you cook it long enough, the parboiled broccoli breaks up into the pasta and almost melts into a pasta-clinging sauce when combined with the cooking water. Increasing the ratio of broccoli-to-pasta not only makes the dish a bit healthier, but better too. While this version is a simple one with garlic, pepper flakes, and Parmesan, another route might melt some anchovies into the oil and skip the Parmesan. Either way, this is, at the very least, a delicious way to eat your broccoli.
- 1 pound pasta
- 1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the broccoli florets.Cook until tender, then remove with a slotted spoon.Add the pasta and cook until al dente, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water before draining.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.Add garlic and red chile flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add broccoli and toss well in the oil, cooking until completely tender, 1-2 minutes.
Add pasta to the pan with the broccoli and toss well to coat. Add half the Parmesan and reserved pasta cooking water little by little until it creates a sauce that clings to the noodles.Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with remaining Parmesan.
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