Pasta With Broccoli, Cauliflower, or Broccoli Rabe
Makes 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes
A rich Bolognese sauce can be super-satisfying, but it has three times the ingredients of this recipe and can be cooked only a few different ways. This simple pasta dish is made with a terrific, explosive vegetable sauce that takes well to other flavors.
1 Tbsp salt
1 lb broccoli, cauliflower, or broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1 Tbsp chopped garlic, or more to taste
1 lb penne, ziti, or other cut pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to boiling and add salt. Boil the vegetables until they're fairly tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on what you use (broccoli rabe is fastest, cauliflower slowest) and the size of the chunks. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low; add the garlic and cook until it begins to sizzle. Scoop the vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon or strainer.
2. Drop the vegetables in the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring and mashing, until they're hot and soft.
3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When it's almost (but not quite) done, drain it, reserving about a cup of the water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the vegetables and 2 tablespoons of the reserved water. Toss it all with a large spoon until well combined. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, along with more of the pasta water to keep the mixture from drying out. Serve immediately.
Pump up this pasta
8 simple ways to add complex flavor
1. Cook 3 or 4 dried chilies along with the garlic, or toss some red-pepper flakes into the pasta.
2. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic to the mashed vegetable 30 seconds before you turn off the heat.
3. Cook several threads of saffron in the oil along with the garlic.
4. Toss 1/2 cup of pesto into the cooked pasta.
5. When you combine the pasta and vegetable, stir in a small can of tomato paste or a cup of chopped tomatoes.
6. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive tapenade when you toss the pasta.
7. Add 1 cup of sliced mushrooms to the oil once the garlic sizzles.
8. Toss in a cup of peas, chopped spinach, or arugula during the last minute of cooking.