Pasta with Broccoli

About 1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1 tablespoon chopped garlic, or more to taste
1 pound penne, ziti, or other cut pasta
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Boil the vegetable until it’s fairly tender, 5 or so minutes.

2.Meanwhile, put the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  When hot, add the garlic and cook until it beings to sizzle, about a minute;  keep warm.  Scoop out the broccoli with a slotted spoon or strainer.

3.Put the broccoli in the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high;  cook, stirring and mashing the broccoli, until it is hot and quite soft.

4.Meanwhile, cook the pasta.   When the pasta is not quite done, drain it, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid.  Add the pasta to the skillet with the broccoli and a couple of tablespoons of the reserved cooking water;  toss with a large spoon until well combined.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, along with some of the pasta water to keep the mixture from drying out.  Serve immediately.

Options for making the dish more exciting:

1.Cook 3 or 4 dried chilies along with the garlic or stir in hot red pepper flakes when you toss the pasta

2.Add a teaspoon or so of minced garlic to the mixture about 30 seconds before you turn off the heat.

3.Cook several treads of saffron in the oil along with the garlic

4.Add 1/2 cup or so of Pesto when you toss the pasta

5.Stir in a small can of tomato paste—or a cup of chopped cherry or regular tomatoes— when you combine the pasta and broccoli

6.Add 1 cup sliced mushrooms to the oil once the garlic sizzles and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until you add the broccoli, then proceed

7.Serve with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese!

– How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman


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