Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Pasta Con Broccoli

I have a short-term memory disorder when it comes to this dish. Every time I set out to whip up some pasta con broccoli, I find myself thinking "oh, this is gonna be a boring meal!" until I eat my first bite... and then I can barely restrain myself from licking the pot.

Life without pasta would not be worth living. I don't think one needs an Italian mom to agree with me. But sometimes, thick red sauces can be a bit repetitive. Deliciously repetitive, granted, but spicing things up never hurt anyone, did it? This sauce is an easily over-looked wallflower of a recipe, but it's low-fat, piquant and healthy.

 Broccoli and garlic lovers will go nuts for a plate of these pasta (one of my coworkers attempted to steal my lunch the last time I brought some to work - office workers can be savages). It's perfect for weeknight dinners, because it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish: turn the heat on for your pasta water as soon as your start your sauce and everything should be ready at the same time.

From "Appetite for Reduction", spiced tweaked:
1/2 pound dry pasta (linguini and rigatoni are my faves)
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 head of broccoli, tops cut into small florets, stalks thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Several pinches of ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the garlic, chili flakes and thyme in the oil for a minute or two, then stir in the vegetable broth, wine and salt. Add the broccoli, turn up the heat to bring to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for 8 to 13 minutes, depending on how soft you want the broccoli to get, stirring occasionally. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and add to the pan, using a pasta spoon to toss them around for 3 more minutes, making sure everything gets coated. Mix in the balsamic vinegar. Serve with a generous pinch of black pepper, and make sure to spoon the leftover garlic from the pan on the plates.

This dish's simplicity gives it all it's charm. It makes a nice, filling-yet-light lunch that you can enjoy at room temperature. But if you eat this dish at home, drink the rest of the white wine with your pasta, and don't forget some crusty bread to clean out your plate.

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