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Pasta Sauced with Broccoli or Broccoli Rabe

1 large bunch of broccoli, about 1 pound, or 1 pound broccoli rabe

At least 5 quarts water plus 2-3 cups cold water

2-3 TBS coarse sea salt

¼ cup virgin olive oil

2 ounces salt pork, diced, about 1/3 cup OR 4-6 anchovy fillets (optional)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 fresh hot red pepper, chopped, or chili pepper flakes to taste

12-16 ounces penne or other short pasta

Detach the broccoli florets from the stalks and divide into bit-sized pieces.  Cut a ½ inch off the butt end of the stalks and peel the dark tough skin on the stalks.  Dice stalks into  1-inch pieces.  Or carefully wash broccoli rabe in a sinkful of warm water, drain, and break off the tough stems.

Bring at least 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot or pasta cooker.  Add 2-3 TBS salt and the broccoli stems or broccoli rabe and cook until tender, at least 5 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon, refresh in cold water, and drain.  Squeeze broccoli rabe lightly to remove excess water.  Cook the broccoli florets for 3-4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, refresh in cold water, and drain.  Reserve cooking water to cook pasta.

Chop the broccoli rabe into bite-sized pieces.  Puree the stems or one third of the broccoli rabe in the food processor for a more elegant sauce.

Heat 2 tablespoons for extra virgin olive oil (and optional salt pork or anchovies) in a 3-quart pot, add the garlic and hot pepper, and cook over moderate heat until the garlic begins to color.

Add the drained broccoli stem puree or the broccoli rabe, salt lightly, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to thoroughly coat with garlic.

Add 2-3 additional cups of cold water to the broccoli cooking water and bring to a rolling boil.

Cook the pasta until it still offers considerable resistance to the tooth, around ¾ of the recommended cooking time.  Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Add the drained pasta and 1 cup cooking water to the broccoli and cook the pasta and broccoli together to complete the pasta’s cooking.  Add the reserved pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, if the sauce is too dry.  Serve immediately.

Notes from Delmar member, Chris:  A delicious dish kids love!  I make it with the broccoli- peeling the stems, then cooking and pureeing them to make a sauce.  I use anchovies which melt into the sauce.  I sue the largest skillet I have to give the sauce and pasta a chance to cook together quickly at the end.  I use extra garlic and less pasta for this amount of broccoli.

from Madhur Jaffery’s World Vegetarian

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