Shells with broccoli

If you’re like me (or like I used to be), you may be thinking broccoli is a fall/winter vegetable. Time to dispel that notion: If you plant a spring garden, or you have a good farmer nearby to purchase from at the farmers market you can have some very delicious broccoli in early summer.

There are at least two things to do with early summer broccoli. One is to not cook it and make a broccoli salad with mayo, red wine vinegar, a little honey, raisins and/or bacon. I’ll research that and get back to you on that score.

The second thing to do with early summer broccoli is to chop it up, sauté and eat with some pasta shells or little things like ziti. Not overcooked, it is nutty, delicious, bright green. Fabulous. In all good ways.

Here’s how:

Ingredients: (per person)

1 stalk broccoli

2 (hefty!) cloves garlic

1-1/2 pieces of anchovy  (I prefer in jars.  Do not use anchovy paste, which is vile.)

dried red pepper flakes (or fresh Serrano, diced)

Olive oil

Romano cheese, grated

2 oz pasta shells

  1. Put up a big pot of water to boil with lots of (kosher) salt.
  2. Put your organic broccoli in a sink or pot of salted water for ½ hour or as long as you have to soak. This rehydrates the broccoli (which you probably don’t need if it’s local and freshly harvested, but I do it anyway) and makes any green worms sink from the salt and away from your broccoli.
  3. When the water has come to a boil and your broccoli has soaked long enough, throw in the pasta, and cook for a good 10+ minutes or until al dente.
  4. Chop your broccoli: Cut the flower tips up and cut in larger pieces. Chop the stems and stalk finely, cutting off tough outside of lower stalk. (Believe me: with fresh broccoli even the stalk is delicious.)
  5. Chop your garlic and anchovy.
  6. Heat a sauté pan, add a big glug of olive oil, and throw in garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovies, broccoli, S&P. Stir and cook at a robust temp. Ladle in some pasta water to stew gently, covered. DO NOT OVERCOOK. You want the broccoli crisp-tender, not mushy or it will lose all of its early summer fresh charm.image
  7. Grate your cheese and set aside. Put a bowl on the stove to warm up.
  8. When pasta is done, drain and put into bowl. Throw your broccoli mixture on top and add cheese. Mangia!

Note: you can make this vegetarian by omitting anchovies and perhaps substituting capers, drained, rinsed and chopped.

 

Source: Sundays at Moosewood (very good Italian section)

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