Bro's garden is beginning to bear fruit - or, rather, vegetables - and I am more than happy to pilfer my share. This weekend's haul included some of his glorious broccoli. Tender, sweet and freshly picked, its the highlight of this quick and easy meal.
Written amounts are flexible here, as we're mainly talking about a technique more than a recipe. The veggies are variable too. I've made this recipe dozens of times in dozens of ways. You can use almost any veg you like: cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus and carrots work well; and any combination of the above would be outstanding. If you've got some left over chicken, chickpeas, or some cooked white beans, feel free to throw them in at the end as well. Its all good and its all delicious, I promise.
Linguine with Caramelized Broccoli:
- some extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large head of broccoli, stems removed, florets trimmed into small pieces
- 2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced (or more to taste)
- some Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- some crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 to 3 cups of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth*
- grating of fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 pound of hot, cooked, whole wheat linguine
- some freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- some chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Heat some olive oil in a large stainless steel skillet, enough to coat the bottom, over high heat until it shimmers. Add the broccoli and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and allow the broccoli to cook, undisturbed, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until crisp, well-browned and caramelized. Remove the cover, stir, reduce heat to medium high and add a bit of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste. Continue cooking for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, stirring as needed, until the broccoli is just tender. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken or vegetable stock, stirring well to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Grate in some fresh nutmeg and allow the sauce to simmer over low heat for 1 minute.
Meanwhile, drain the cooked pasta, then add it to the skillet, along with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese, and toss to coat. Serve at once with additional Parmesan cheese and a bit of chopped parsley for garnish. Enjoy!
As written, this recipe will serve 3 or 4 depending on portion size.
*The amount of broth used is really up to you. This is a very thin sauce as it is and I like to serve it in a large bowl with both a fork and a soup spoon. I never measure the broth, I just keep adding it until it looks good. 2 to 3 cups for 1/2 pound of pasta should do it. Use your judgment and all will be well.
And let's have a word about that high heat crisping, shall we? Fear not and forge ahead, dear readers. With the heat that high and the oil sizzling, you're going to worry that you're burning the hell out of your veggies ... and ... you are! You must! Its all part of the plan. Take a look above and you'll see the kind of dark, very very dark, char that is our aim. You'll have to trust me on this, or, more specifically, trust Sara Moulton. The broccoli will not taste burnt, nor will the finished sauce. Caramelizing the tender green florets brings out a wonderful, nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with the hint of garlic and whisper of cheese. In a word, its spectacular!
This is a quick, versatile, inexpensive and healthy meatless meal that comes together in about 10 minutes flat.
So, what are you waiting for? ... Get cookin'!