Want to make the coolest pasta dish ever? One that merely requires you to pile broccoli into a pot of boiling water and essentially wait until it gets so overcooked that it becomes the sauce? It’s an old school Italian recipe, one that’s so old it’s new, and I know that you want to try it.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to Catelli’s 150th birthday dinner. I’m newly gluten-free, but Catelli graciously offered to cook me GF pasta. I hadn’t had pasta in ages, and felt inspired to share one of my favourite pasta recipes that I learned to cook in Rome.
Usually made with orecchiette and rapini or turnip greens, this is a pasta dish where the greens become the sauce. But because we are not in Italy and we don’t have a nonna to hand-shape orecchiette for us, and we don’t usually have access to turnip greens, and also because I am staying away from gluten, I’ve made this pasta with two easy items to find: GF fusilli (made by Catelli) and broccoli.
While this is a super simple recipe, the big challenge lies in your timing. When I learned to make this pasta, my teacher stressed how complicated this seems for North Americans:
- The broccoli has to be overcooked (like, waaaaay overcooked)
- The pasta has to be cooked al dente (which is undercooked for some)
So here it is. I’ve made it with Catelli’s gluten-free fusilli.
- 1 box Catelli gluten-free fusilli
- 1-1.5 tbsp sea salt
- 1 large head of broccoli including stem, chopped into florets
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 dried chili
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add sea salt and broccoli, and let broccoli cook until it gets pretty soft.
- Now’s the tricky part. You need to look at the cooking instructions on your box of pasta and ask yourself whether you think the broccoli needs more than that amount of time to break down. When the broccoli looks like it’s 5-7 minutes away from being perfectly tender and mushy, add the pasta. Cook according to package directions, which is usually between 5 and 7 minutes. As soon as you add the pasta, make it your priority and don’t let it overcook (under any circumstances!).
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and add the dried chili and chopped garlic.
- Your pasta should be cooked perfectly al-dente.
- Reserve 1 cup or so of the pasta water.
- Drain the pasta and broccoli and add to the pan with the hot olive oil and garlic. Give everything a stir, adding pasta water if needed.
- Serve immediately!
- Note: this pasta is not served with cheese. I don’t think I’ve ever added cheese to it because I was told not to. If you do opt to add cheese, know that you’re a rebel, and I like you.
Wishing you pastas full of broccoli. xo Andrea