Thinking of this recipe begs me to share this embarrassing childhood memory. As I may have mentioned before, I haven’t always been a food nerd. I was an alarmingly picky eater as a kid.
True story: I remember being in tears one day as a young child when my family wanted to make this recipe, because it used linguine instead of spaghetti. The pasta is a different shape! Oh, no, it will be horrid! This is the worst thing ever! My poor mother didn’t know what to do with me. My father, thankfully, had the foresight to not explain that “linguine” means “little tongues” in Italian (that would certainly have pushed me further over the edge) but rather went into a lengthy description of a pasta factory, making spaghetti, when an equipment malfunction accidentally flattened the spaghetti! Complete with Emeril-like sound effects: “Bam! Bam!” every time a strand of spaghetti went through the machine. Laughter ensued, kid logic took over, and I happily ate the flat spaghetti, a.k.a. linguine.
Pasta with broccoli is a classic example of simple Sicilian cooking that’s quick and easy to prepare but tastes delicious. The recipe below is easily adaptable to your needs and cooking preferences, and it takes no time at all. You can probably be eating in 15 minutes. I usually make two servings (one for me to eat now and one to bring for tomorrow’s lunch), but feel free to double or triple.
Pasta With Broccoli
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the broccoli directly in the water with the pasta. Don’t skip this step and cook the broccoli separately, because it adds flavor when cooked together. Exactly how many minutes before the end of your pasta cooking time is up to you. I like my broccoli pretty soft, so maybe try 3-4 minutes. If you like your broccoli crisp tender, add it a little later.
When the pasta and broccoli are both cooked, drain off the water but allow a tiny bit to remain in the bottom of your pot. If you used a colander, return the pasta and broccoli to the pot. Drizzle lightly with a fruity extra-virgin olive oil (remember, with so few ingredients, the olive oil taste will really come through, so choose one you like!) and freshly cracked pepper to taste and toss gently. At this point, taste the pasta and broccoli. If it tastes very bland, add a tiny pinch of kosher salt and toss again, but don’t make it too salty now because you are still going to add grey salt before serving.
Transfer the pasta to individual plates or a large serving bowl, and finish with a generous sprinkling of grey salt.