On the Gourmet Trail. Italy: Puglia
Taste a piece of Puglia at home with this delicious Orecchiette pasta with broccoli sauce.
12 ounces broccoli florets- cut or broken into very small florets about equal size
8 ounces short pasta- orecchiette pasta, penne, rigatoni, etc
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves- rough chopped
Generous pinch chili flakes
Generous pinch salt and pepper
1–2 anchovy, chopped (optional)
2 cups veggie or chicken broth
Garnish options- grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, lemon zest, fresh basil ribbons, toasted pine nuts, toasted bread crumbs, truffle oil or kalamata olives- all optional.
1. Steam small broccoli florets until very tender ( easily pierced with a fork) and set aside.
2. Cook pasta according to directions, and save some hot pasta water when you drain.
3. In a large pan, saute the garlic and chili flakes in the olive oil, over medium heat until fragrant and golden, about 2-3 minutes. Add the steamed broccoli, optional anchovy, salt, pepper and broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and start breaking apart the broccoli with a metal spatula into tiny pieces.
4. 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 consisancy of a thick sauce, about 10-15 minutes. It won’t be smooth-just broken down and tender.
5. Add the pasta. Toss well. Add more pasta water if you like it a little more saucy. Taste for salt, adding more along with pepper and the chili flakes.
6. Divide among bowls and top with any of the garnishes you like. Grated Parmesan adds depth and salt, Lemon zest adds a nice brightness, which I highly recommend and a drizzle of truffle oil elevates.