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Simply satisfying: A warming broccoli and pasta dish


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Posted Online: Jan. 08, 2013, 9:25 am
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By Sara Moulton
Whenever I have too little time and too few ingredients on hand — or when I've been eating too much meat — I cook up some broccoli pasta.

Which means I make it for dinner about once every 10 days! It's delicious, healthy, inexpensive and easy to prepare. The recipe, in fact, is a cinch, consisting of just a few ingredients — pasta, chicken broth, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil and a large head of the namesake crucifer. I always have four of those ingredients in the house, so all I need to do is run out and pick up some broccoli and I'm good to go.

Another of this recipe's charms is its flexibility. I can swap in vegetable broth for chicken broth, spaghetti for the angel hair pasta, and any other grated hard cheese for the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sometimes I'll even lose the broccoli in favor of roasted cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.

But what makes the dish so popular in my house is its comfort factor. I serve it soupy, so you can slurp the chicken broth along with the strands of pasta. I also make sure there's some crusty bread within easy reach, which helps to mop up the broth not captured with a spoon.

In the original version of this recipe (I've been making it for years), I sauteed the broccoli in olive oil over very high heat until it was quite brown around the edges. The problem with this method is the broccoli quickly soaked up all the olive oil and I always ended up having to add quite a bit more. I switched to oven-roasting it, which helps to decrease the amount of olive oil necessary. It also requires very little baby-sitting.

This dish is so economical it's almost ecological. I use all of the broccoli, not just the florets. For years I used to trash the stems, but the stems also are plenty edible. Just peel off the skin, cut them up, and you're ready.

Cold Weather Broccoli Pasta
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
1 large head broccoli (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 pound whole-wheat capellini pasta
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oven to 450 F. Position one of the racks in the top third of the oven.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Cut the broccoli, including the stems, into 2-inch pieces. Peel any thick stem pieces to remove the thick skin.
On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange the broccoli in a single layer. Drizzle with the oil, then sprinkle with salt to taste and toss well. Place on the top oven rack and roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is crisp tender and slightly brown at the edges. Transfer the broccoli to a large skillet, add the pepper flakes and the chicken broth, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
When the water in the large pot comes to a boil, add a hefty pinch of salt and the pasta. Stir and cook for two minutes, or until the pasta is limp but not quite cooked through. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the broccoli pan. Simmer for two minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt to taste. Ladle into shallow soup bowls and serve with crusty bread.
Nutrition information per serving: 470 calories; 160 calories from fat (34 percent of total calories); 17 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 54 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 25 g protein; 870 mg sodium.



















 



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  Today is Sunday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2014. There are 101 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We hear that Col. Reynolds has employed C.D. Merrill to drill for water to supply the Rock Island Barracks.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Billy Catton, famous billard player, returned to Rock Island with a view to making this city his home in the future.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The belief is growing that a great decisive battle of the World War was being fought at Verdun, a strong fortress of France on the Meuse near the French frontier, according to a London dispatch.
1939 -- 75 years ago: William Stremmel, 91, Rock Island's last Civil War veteran, died.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Workmen of the Midwest Wrecking Co., Clinton, have begun razing the historic old office building of Deere & Co., 1325 3rd Ave., Moline. The site will be used by the Deere Plow Works for its shipping and receiving department.
1989 -- 25 years ago: East Moline developer Jim Massa says the financial package for the proposed $34.5 million Quad City International Motor Speedway is down to making sure "all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Finalizing this will give the green light to see if NASCAR and CART, the auto racing sanctioning bodies, approve race dates.






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