This is a “go-to” dinner in our house. It is super simple and fast to prepare. It is the perfect weeknight meal. It’s also a very adjustable dish – at the end of the recipe you will find swap outs and mix-in ideas.
This time I used Cavatappi, but have used Fusilli, Campanelle, Gemil, Orecchiette and Medium Shells in the past. Anything with a shape that can catch pieces of garlic, cheese and meaty goodness will work well.
It is very important to get good quality ingredients for this dish because there aren’t a lot of components. The most important ingredient, to me, is the cheese. I recommend buying the Pecorino Romano in a wedge and grinding it yourself in a food processor or gating it on the fine side of a box grater to retain texture. I am partial to Locatelli Pecorino because it is the kind my grandparents always buy, and it’s delicious. But please don’t use the canned stuff in the paperboard tube – you will thank me.
Broccoli PastaServes 3-4 as a main course 3/4 lbs. shaped pasta 1 bunch of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces 3 links (~12 ounces) of hot Italian sausage 5 cloves of garlic, chopped 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil Fresh ground pepper Additional olive oil for tossing 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, ground or grated Additional cheese to pass
Fill a large 6-8 quart stockpot with water, and bring to boil. Meanwhile, prepare broccoli and garlic. My broccoli, prepared, was about 4 cups or 12.5 ounces.
Heat a 10” sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to pan. Break into bite size pieces as it cooks; if the sausage does not give off enough fat, and is sticking, add a little olive oil. Cook sausage until there is no pink, and sausage is just cooked though. Remove sausage from pan and drain off fat on paper towel. Reduce heat to medium and return pan to stove. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and drained sausage to pan; start to lightly brown. Add garlic and cook for about two minutes. Reduce heat to low, set aside.
When water starts boiling, add kosher salt (about 1-2 tablespoons). Add pasta and time for 3 minutes less than the recommended cooking time on box. Stir occasionally. When timer goes off add broccoli and cook for 3 additional minutes or until the pasta is at the desired texture. Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water then drain. Return pasta to stockpot and toss with sausage, 10-15 grinds of fresh pepper, and a little olive oil to coat. Add pasta water by a few tablespoons at a time to keep from sticking; you probably won’t use all the reserved water. Toss in cheese. Serve with extra cheese to pass.Other great add-ins: – 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes; add to sauté pan with garlic – 1/2 cup of frozen peas; add to pasta water 1 minute before pasta is done – 1/2 cup – 1 cup of artichoke heart; add to sauté pan with garlic Other variations: – 3 links of sweet Italian sausage, and a few pinches of red pepper flakes – 1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2” slices – 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced against grain in bite size pieces – Meatless side – skip the sauté pan and sauté oil and garlic in bottom of empty stock pot, adding a few pinches of red pepper flakes; cool slightly then add pasta and broccoli