My difficulties with broccoli have been well documented (like here or here). Historically, I haven’t like it when it’s cooked, though one time a few summers ago, my mom served some sautéed broccoli and cauliflower with bowtie pasta, and it really wasn’t bad (by which I mean that I ate the whole plate without being asked to finish my vegetables). So when I saw this recipe on Tea & Cookies, I bookmarked it. It took me a while to try it, sure, but I finally got around to it. And wow – I can definitely eat broccoli like this! The Engineer and I both had seconds. We then debated the finer points of “cheating” by presenting a disliked food in a different way versus “camouflaging” the food in a more palatable form (he thinks this is cheating, I say it’s camouflaging). Don’t be afraid to use garlic for flavor, as well as pasta water and quality olive oil (both for flavor and texture). Also, next time, I wouldn’t hesitate to add parmesan directly into the sauce instead of just topping the dish with it.
5 cups broccoli, flowerets and stems
5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided (I used 3 Tbsp. safflower oil + 2 Tbsp. quality EVOO)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (roughly the juice of one half large lemon)
3 Tbsp. pasta water (or more, to taste)
1-2 tsp. salt (to taste)
¼ tsp. pepper (to taste)
1 lb dried pasta
parmesan cheese for serving and/or adding to the sauce (optional)
Wash and chop the broccoli into 1-2 inch pieces (no need to peel stems). Steam the broccoli over water kept at a strong simmer for 5-10 minutes, removing from heat when broccoli is soft enough that large stems can be easily pierced with a fork.
While the broccoli is cooking, boil water and prepare the pasta. Make sure to set aside some of the pasta cooking water to use in the sauce before draining and rinsing the pasta.
In a large sauté pan, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil (I use safflower oil for coking) over medium high heat and add the garlic before turning the heat to medium. Sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly, and remove the pan from the heat if the garlic begins to brown at all. Add the broccoli and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for about 7 minutes. You may add additional oil if the broccoli/garlic begins to stick to the pan.
Put the broccoli mixture in the bowl of a food processor or blender, adding the pasta water and additional olive oil (this is where I use the good stuff), lemon juice, salt and pepper through the feed tube. Stop the blending and scrape down the sides as needed. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, or parmesan. (If you like a more pronounced lemon flavor, grate some lemon zest into the broccoli as well.)
Toss the hot pasta with as much sauce as you prefer (we used all of it), reserving any leftovers for later (can be spread on toast for a crostini, or eaten with a spoon). Serve with grated parmesan cheese, as desired.