Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pasta ai broccoli (versione piemontese)

Some time ago I posted a recipe for 'pasta with broccoli' - but it was a Sicilian recipe, and broccoli were actually the dialect name for cauliflower! So, now I'll give a recipe for pasta with the real broccoli. :) We can say it's a Piemontese version, because my mom taught me. :)
This recipe is dedicated to Amit, who asked me specifically for it, and promised he would link my recipe to his great post on broccoli - you can visit it if you want to know some nutritional information on this great vegetable! So, here you are, Amit:
Pasta con i broccoli 'alla Piemontese' / Pasta with broccoli 'Piemontese style'

For 1 lb of pasta, you'll need 3 broccoli. Start boiling the water. In the meanwhile, finely cut half a big yellow onion and sautee it in 2 tbsp olive oil. Cut the 3 broccoli stems into pieces, and add them to the onion. Add salt (~1 tbsp), sautee for ~10 min, then add the crowns cut into small pieces, sautee for another 5 min, then cover the pan and cook for another 5 min. Taste and adjust the salt. At this point, if you're not vegetarian, add 5 anchovies and cook, covered, for another 5 min. The anchovies will melt and give a delicious twist to the flavor of the dish, and won't be strong at all. If you're vegetarian, you can avoid the anchovies, maybe add some garlic to the sautee onion at the beginning, and you'll have a wonderful dish in any case.
When the water boils, add salt and then the pasta. Cook al dente, drain, and add to the pan with the broccoli. Sautee the pasta with the broccoli, add some pepper (red pepper flakes, or ground black pepper) and ~ 2 tbsp grated cheese (pecorino, or parmigiano). This time I decided to innovate a little and add also some sliced almonds to the dish, but this is not in my mom's traditional recipe.
When you serve, add on each plate some more fresh olive oil, and grate more cheese and add more pepper to taste. You'll be delighted!
There are a few 'traditional' variations to this dish:
1) An important variation to this recipe includes the addition of tomatoes (usually canned diced tomatoes, which I add after the onions, and cook for ~ 5 min by themselves before adding the broccoli stems). It's also very good, but this time I really wanted to have the broccoli as the main focus of the dish.
2) Another important variation concerns the way of cooking the broccoli. Some people cook the broccoli in the pasta water, instead of in a separate pan. So, they add the stems together with the pasta when the water boils and the crowns more towards the end of the cooking. So they have in a separate pan only the onions and the anchovies. Then they drain both pasta and broccoli and they sautee them with the pasta. Honestly, although this last version may be the most traditional, I prefer the one I described above. First, you have a better control over the cooking degree of the broccoli, and second, sauteeing the broccoli with the onions and the anchovies since the beginning gives them a nice taste.
This recipe is also my entry to Ruth's fabulous weekly event 'Presto pasta nights'


Ruth Daniels said...

It does look delicious. Another treat for Presto Pasta Nights. Thanks for being such a great contributor. Check back for the roundup tomorrow.

chemcookit said...

Thanks Ruth! I'm looking forward to another great roundup :)

Ferdzy said...

Yes, looks good! We have a couple more months of local broccoli here so I'll be giving it a try at some point, I expect.

chemcookit said...

Hey Ferdzy, if you do, let me know how it comes out. :)