Who doesn’t love pasta? With its tender/firm texture and natural affinity for a never-ending range of sauces, it’s the star of quick and easy dishes (assuming you aren’t making it from scratch). I’m all for a modern take on pasta dishes with few ingredients but many of the simplest dishes are traditional – like orrechiette with broccoli.
This extremely tasty dish is an Italian classic and you’ll find slightly varying versions across the internet and in many Italian (and other) cookbooks. My partner E was effusive over this one and he usually ‘forgets’ to make much comment (although non-verbal appreciative noises are typically forthcoming).
It’s key ingredients (and these are just about all the ingredients) are the type of pasta, the broccoli, the judicious use of fresh chilli and the generous use of anchovies. I’m not a lover of anchovies on their own but as a flavouring they’re fabulous.
Broccoli is at it’s best right now and cauliflowers keep begging for more attention so my version has a mixture of the two.
The sauce is an emulsion created by adding some of the pasta cooking water to deglaze the pan, and a liberal grating of pecorino. There is very little oil in this dish (just a drizzle of the anchovy oil) so it’s relatively low-fat; always a nice bonus.
Orrechiette with broccoli
small head of broccoli, cut into small florets, stalk thinly sliced
1/4 small cauliflower, cut into small florets, stalk thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic, cut into paper-thin slices
1 small fresh chilli, finely sliced
8 anchovy fillets
40g finely grated pecorino
In a large saucepan bring at least 2 litres of salted water to the boil. Cook broccoli and cauliflower in the water for 3-4 minutes then scoop out and drain in colander but leave water boiling. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente according to packet directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.
I was tempted to just throw the veggies in with the pasta towards the end of its cooking time but I think the amount would would take the pasta off the boil for too long before it was ready.
Meanwhile, in a large fry pan heat 1 teaspoon of the oil from the anchovy jar. Add the anchovies, breaking them up and frying gently until dissolved. Add the garlic and chilli and keep gently frying until the garlic is golden. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
Pour the reserved pasta water into the fry pan and bring to a rapid boil. Add the vegetables and pasta to the fry pan and toss to combine. Add about half of the pecorino before serving and mix through.
Divide between two bowls and sprinkle over the remaining pecorino.