The final featured vegetable of the cruciferous make-over (see Brussels Sprouts on Botox and Cauliflower Gets New Clothes) is broccoli. Otherwise known as the vegetable that our mothers made us eat so we could have dessert. That is until you’ve tried broccoli made by Jeff’s mother. I had the good fortune of having three wonderful role models for cooking: my grandmother, my mother, and my mother-in-law. Jeff’s mom, Dorothy, (also Italian and from RI) is an outstanding cook -- as it has been said: the woman could make sawdust taste good.
I first ate her lemony broccoli pasta with breadcrumbs when Jeff and I were dating (Jeff says it helped to convince me to marry him). This is an adaptation of her recipe. She’s really excited about this blog. She actually told Jeff that I have become her second favorite, right after Giada from the Food Network. If you knew my mother-in-law, then you would understand that that is a HUGE compliment!
Although I think fresh pasta is always superior to dried, it’s not always practical; I am actually all out myself, unless Jeff at the delicious C for Cooking would like to mail me some (see his 26 Jan. 07 post). But I do think dried pasta is fine for this recipe; I like Barilla. Just be sure to keep both the pasta and the broccoli al dente.
My husband just added, “Tell them not to skimp on the Grana Padano!" So, there you have it.
DOROTHY’S PASTA with LEMONY BROCCOLI, WALNUTS, and TOASTED BREADCRUMBS
Print recipe only here.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 cups broccoli florets
About 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
A little bit of lemon zest
8 oz pasta (I used cellentani; I also like penne or rigatoni, 'cause the breadcrumbs adhere well to them)
½ cup walnuts, toasted
½ cup breadcrumbs, toasted
A few shakes of crushed red pepper
A few shakes of salt
A non-skimpy portion of good grated Grana Padano
A handful of chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Some good olive oil to drizzle on top
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Layer walnuts on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, until slightly golden and aromatic.
To toast the breadcrumbs, place in a skillet on the stovetop; slightly shake until golden and evenly toasty, just a couple of minutes. Remove from pan, so that the heat won’t continue to toast them.
Cook pasta in salted water according to directions.
Add olive oil to a skillet. Over medium heat, sauté garlic and shallots until slightly caramelized. Add the broccoli, lemon juice and zest, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the broccoli turns a brilliant green and remains firm to the touch. Add your cooked pasta to the skillet with the broccoli mixture, and toss in the toasted walnuts and breadcrumbs.
Plate the pasta; sprinkle with a healthy dose of grated Grana Padano cheese and some fresh parsley. Finish it off with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.
Makes 4 servings.