Crispy Broccoli with Capellini in Broth

Once you have your pasta water at a boil and your broccoli cut into florets, this dish ? a perfect weekday quick-comfort meal ? takes no time at all to prepare. The star here is the crispy broccoli. You create that crispiness by allowing your pant and oil to get a lot hotter than you normally would ? to the point where the oil is just about smoking ? then quickly throwing in the broccoli and covering the pan. The broccoli sears around the edges, caramelizes, and develops a real depth of flavor. The capellini or angel hair pasta cooks in 3 minutes, so don?t put it in the boiling water until the broccoli/broth part of the recipe is ready. (If you want the pasta wait for the sauce, it will start clumping up.) Finally, here?s a handy tip on how to grate your Parmigiano-Reggiano without scraping your knuckles raw: just cut it into chunks, toss it into the food processor, and let the blades grate it as fine as you like. Serve with crusty bread and a side of Borscht Beets.

Recipe courtesy Sara Moulton, Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, Broadway Books, 2002
Show: Sara's Secrets Episode: Pasta Pronto
TOTAL TIME: 35 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive Prep: --
Cook: 20 min
YIELD: 4 servings
LEVEL: Easy

ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large head broccoli, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds, stems removed and florets trimmed into pieces 2 inches long with a stem about 1/2-inch thick (4 to 5 cups)
  • Salt
  • 1 quart chicken stock, preferably homemade
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Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the broccoli and season with salt, to taste. Cover and cook until just crispy and brown around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove the cover, stir, and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cover and cook until the florets are crisp but tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and pepper flakes.

Add the capellini to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the broccoli and stock. Stir in half the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Divide among 4 warmed soup plates and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

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