Saturday was another rare dinner for one night. My family went to a rodeo, but I decided I’d rather stay in and make this pasta. I’d been itching for a chance to photograph it, and the opportunity presented itself.
In the kitchen, I opened up Pandora on my phone and turned on one of my jazz stations. (This is always a given when I’m cooking alone.) Lovely sounds floated off the top of the refrigerator while I boiled pasta and sautéed onions and garlic and broccoli. Oh, the smell.
[insert break for photography and reheating of pasta.]
Alone at the table, I multitasked as usual- uploading the photographs to my computer while reading the latest issue of Sunset and delighting in a glorious plate of carbs. It’s blissful, really.
Let’s talk about this pasta. First of all, it’s a genius combination of basic ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen.
It’s also super easy. Broccoli florets get blanched, then sautéed with onions and garlic. A shot of cream is added, and the whole thing goes for a quick run in the food processor. The “sauce” gets tossed back in the pan with some pasta (I’ve also added a splash of white wine at this point- recommended) and loosened up with a bit of the pasta water until it’s silky. Once on the plate, the whole thing gets showered in parmesan cheese. For this application, it really does make a huge difference if you can use real parmesan.
Another fantastic thing about this pasta is that the ratio of vegetable to carb is 1:1. Guys, it’s practically health food! Okay, not completely, but it is great that there’s just as much broccoli as there is pasta.
This is simple green comfort food at it’s finest.
broccoli cream pesto pasta
recipe adapted from smitten kitchen
[ makes one generous serving ]
¼ pound broccoli
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons butter
¼ small onion, finely chopped (roughly ¼ cup)
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
¼ pound dry spaghetti noodles
About ¼ cup Parmeggiano-Reggiano, to serve
Cut the broccoli top into florets, and the upper stem into ½-inch pieces. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for about 3-4 minutes. It’s important not to overcook it, as it will be getting cooked again briefly. Drain and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package’s instructions. Again, don’t overcook- it will be cooking again for a minute or so at the end. Reserve a cupful of pasta water.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add the broccoli and cook for about a minute, then stir in the cream. Cook for 30 seconds, then transfer everything to the food processor and pulse until sauce-like, but still just a little bit chunky.
Pour the sauce back into the pan (it will be very thick). Add the now-cooked pasta noodles to the sauce, along with a generous splash of reserved pasta water (and white wine, if you like). Toss to coat, adding more pasta water as needed. Salt and pepper the pasta to taste, and toss in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes.
Plate the pasta, and serve with a liberal amount of cheese.