All About Broccoli

This is a fast and healthful dish to feed four people. Serve it with crusty Italian bread and a simple, light red wine such as a dolcetto or a barbera.

  • 1 large bunch broccoli, about 1-1/2 pounds
  • 21/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ziti or other short pasta
  • 2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, halved or cut in strips
  • 20 black olives (oil-cured preferred), pitted and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese plus more for passing at the table

Put a pot with at least 4 quarts of water and a teaspoon of salt on to boil. Peel broccoli stems and cut sticks about 2-inches long, 1/4-inch thick. Separate heads into florets. Rinse in a colander. When water comes to a boil, add broccoli and cook, covered, about 5 minutes or until just tender.

Using a skimmer or strainer, remove broccoli to a wok or large skillet. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm. Add another teaspoon of salt to the pot of water and return to a boil. Cook pasta 5 minutes, add tomatoes and cook about 3 or 4 minutes more or until pasta is al dente. Drain well, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water, and add to the broccoli.

Heat wok over low flame and add olives, oil, hot pepper flakes, lemon rind, remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and reserved pasta cooking water. Toss well but gently. After a few minutes, toss with cheese and spoon out onto individual soup plates. Pass additional cheese at the table.

Serves 4.

Sam’s Cooking Tip: Use the above method for cooking other vegetables that will be mixed with pasta, such as asparagus and hearty greens like kale.

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