What I love about this pasta is how much green there is on the plate—an almost equal amount of broccoli and starch. I eat so much pasta and I'm terribly fond of recipes that use a minimal number of ingredients, just enough sauce to coat the noodles. But sometimes that leaves me feeling over-starched.
I'm amazed this recipe has never crossed my path before. It's wonderful, simple, and delicious and seems to be relatively common. The anchovies give it depth of flavor (not at all fishy), while the dried red chiles (or red pepper flakes) give it just a hint of heat to keep things interesting.
I made something similar awhile back with cauliflower and orecchiette, but prefer this recipe for its lightness. It leaves the broccoli minimally cooked and just barely al dente like the pasta, keeping things fresh. Broccoli rabe would make a great substitute as well if you don't mind the bitterness.
- 1 large or 2 small heads broccoli, about 1 pound total
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 filets anchovy, roughly chopped
- 2 small dried red chiles, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound orecchiette or other shaped pasta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Trim the ends off the broccoli, then cut off florets in bite-sized pieces and chop the stalks. In a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the anchovies, chiles, garlic, and broccoli stalks. Cook over medium-low heat until the stalks are soft.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salty water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, adding the broccoli florets for the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking.
Reserve some pasta cooking water, then drain. Add to the skillet and toss to coat, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the butter, half the Parmesan, and pasta water (if necessary) to moisten. Cook until the butter and pasta water meld into a sauce coating everything.
Serve with the remaining cheese scattered over the top.