Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce – a simple vegetarian pasta dish hailing from Tuscany that is easy to make, healthy and oh so delicious!
- 12 ounces broccoli florets- cut or broken into very small florets about equal size (about 6 cups packed)
- 8 ounces short pasta- orecchiette pasta, penne, rigatoni, etc
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 fat shallot, diced
- 6 garlic cloves- rough chopped
- generous pinch chili flakes ( Aleppo or Urfa biber is nice here)
- generous pinch salt and pepper, more to taste
- 1 teaspoon miso paste (or sub 1–2 mashed anchovies)
- 2 cups veggie broth or chicken broth
- 1–2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Garnish: grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, lemon zest, truffle oil, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, truffle oil or kalamata olives- all optional.
- Steam small broccoli florets until very tender (easily pierced with a fork)and set aside.
- Cook the pasta in 8 cups water with 1 tablespoon salt (measure), Save a cup of hot pasta water when you drain.
- In a large pan, saute the shallot and garlic and chili flakes in the olive oil, over medium heat until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the miso paste (or anchovy), then add steamed broccoli, salt, pepper and the broth.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and start breaking apart the broccoli with a metal spatula into tiny pieces. As it cooks it will get easier to break apart. You want the broccoli to basically melt down into a “sauce”. Continue simmering gently on low heat until half of the liquid evaporates and it becomes the consistency of a thick sauce, about 10-15 minutes.
- If it seems watery and separated, just keep cooking it down. It won’t be smooth- but just broken down and very very tender.
- Add the pasta. Toss well. Add more hot pasta water to keep it ” saucy.” Add the lemon zest.
- Taste for salt, adjust, adding more along with pepper, chili flakes. If you want more richness add another splash of olive oil (or pat of butter- my husband loves this). Stir in some optional pecorino.
- Divide among pasta bowls and top with any of the garnishes you like. Grated Parmesan or pecorino adds depth,basil ribbons add flavor, and a drizzle of truffle oil elevates.
Sometimes I’ll halve the pasta (if cooking for two) and make this with the same amount of broccoli sauce, boosting the broccoli part. Just sayin’.;)
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