December 5, 2011 by Johanna Burani
Pasta with broccoli and a strong earthy olive oil is a very popular winter dish for Italians and cavatelli seem like the ideal pasta choice. Its crevices create lots of little spaces where the broccoli sauce can nest. I’ve added a hint of mustard to my broccoli puree to give it a little “spunk.” Another option might be a few peperoncino (red pepper) flakes.
- 2 large stalks of fresh broccoli (approximately 1 lb.)
- 1-2 large cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise in quarters
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1½ tablespoons sharp mustard (Dijon type)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lb. cavatelli pasta
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Separate the broccoli florets from the stems and cut them into small pieces. Peel the tough outer skin from the stems then cut them into small pieces. Place all the broccoli in a steam basket, wash and drain.
- Add 2 cups of water to a large pot. Place the basket of broccoli in the pot. Add the garlic slices on top of the broccoli. Cover and steam gently for 15 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
- In the meantime, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
- Once cooked, transfer the broccoli-garlic mixture to a food processor. Reserve the cooking water.
- Pulse the broccoli mixture for 15 seconds. Add ½ cup of the reserved water. Pulse for another 15 seconds. Repeat with another ½ cup of water and another 15 seconds of pulsing.
- In a small dish, whisk together the mustard and the salt with 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. Add to the food processor. Pulse for another 15 seconds. Set aside and keep warm. (You will have about 2½ cups of this pureed sauce.)
- When the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta, return it to the pot and toss with the olive oil.
- Add in the broccoli, toss thoroughly and serve with grated cheese.