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A fast-cooking entrée favored by kids and adults alike

Tommy C. Simmons, An enthusiastic cook
Photograph Tommy C. Simmons

One of my favorite vegetable-focused cookbooks is “Eat Fresh, Stay Healthy: An A-to-Z Guide to Buying and Cooking Fruits and Vegetables” by Tony Tantillo and Sam Gugino. I enjoy reading and cooking from the book and definitely agree with the authors’ advice in regards to preparing broccoli. “To enjoy broccoli’s true flavor, do what the Italians do and keep preparations simple. I like broccoli with just some chopped garlic, lightly sautéed in olive oil, salt and pepper,” says Tantillo. To turn sautéed broccoli into a main dish, I add pasta to the recipe.

Broccoli and Pasta is a hit with kids as well as adults. Leftovers reheat easily in a microwave.

I especially enjoy making this dish in late winter and early spring because fresh broccoli is sweeter tasting in cooler weather. I hesitate mentioning this, but Broccoli and Pasta is also a good use of broccoli that sat in the refrigerator a tad too long and is starting to dry out. The initial steaming step rehydrates the broccoli florets and helps revive the flavor. The finished dish’s taste won’t be as sweet as when you use really fresh broccoli, but it’s acceptable and prevents you wasting those lovely heads you should have cooked sooner. Do fix it soon:

Broccoli and Pasta

Adapted recipe is by Tommy C. Simmons from original recipe for Quick Broccoli with Pasta in “Eat Fresh, Stay Healthy” cookbook by Tony Tantillo and Sam Gugino.
Home kitchen-tested recipe.
Serves 4.
1 large bunch of broccoli
Salt, coarse grain like sea salt or Kosher is preferred
8 ozs. spaghetti pasta
4 tbls. olive oil
2 tbls. butter
4 toes fresh garlic, finely chopped
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half (optional)
Black pepper
Red pepper or red pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Wash and then chop broccoli heads to separate stems from florets. Discard stems. Slice florets to uniform sizes.
  2. Add water to a large boiling pot. Season water with salt (I use about ½ teaspoon) and bring to boil. When boiling, add broccoli and cook covered about 5 minutes or until just tender.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove broccoli from water and set aside.
  4. Bring water back to a boil, add more water if needed, and drop spaghetti pasta into boiling water to cook until soft and cooked through.
  5. While spaghetti pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add cooked broccoli florets, garlic, and tomatoes to skillet. Stir well to coat with olive oil/butter.
  6. Season with additional salt to taste (go light on salt), black pepper and red pepper or red pepper flakes. Cook until the tomatoes are wrinkling and the garlic is just starting to turn golden. Don’t dawdle; you don’t want to overcook the garlic.
  7. Remove from burner. Drain cooked pasta and pour into a large bowl. Top with broccoli/tomato/garlic mixture. Toss with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Note: The original recipe also includes sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and ½ teaspoon of grated lemon rind.

Posted March 2014

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