broccolipasta

I wrote about wanting to make this dish in April. It is now mid-July. What is happening? Summer is half over and I feel like we’ve had about 4 nice days so far. But then again, New York is not exactly known for its long, luxurious springtime. It’s muggy and stinky and filthy here in the summer. So I guess I’m grateful I’m even able to set foot in my un-airconditioned kitchen and cook anything. I may be making a lot of chilled soups come August.

I adapted this pasta sauce from this recipe on Epicurious. I try to be open-minded, but I have come to the conclusion that I just don’t like peas. I didn’t want that to stop me from trying this, so I paired the pasta and sauce with some nutty roasted broccoli instead, which is one of my favorite things in life. I know I have gone on about it before, but if you think you don’t love broccoli, try it this way. I promise it tastes nothing like the bad overcooked broccoli so many children must suffer through eating. (I was lucky. My parents understood the concept of “al dente”).

Here’s my version:

Pasta with Almond Garlic Sauce & Roasted Broccoli
Serves 6 – 8

2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 lb. pasta — I used bow tie because I had it, but any cut pasta will do
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
3/4 c. blanched almonds
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. parmeggiano cheese
2 T. butter
olive oil
salt & pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 c. reserved pasta cooking liquid
toasted almond slices (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place your broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet and toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and the red pepper flakes. Roast in the oven, stirring once mid-way through, for about 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender and caramelized and brown at the edges. Set aside.

Add the almonds, 3/4 c. water, and garlic to a blender and blend until mostly smooth. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until just shy of al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve the cooking water. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter to the pot you cooked the pasta in. Let the butter foam and then add the blended almond mixture. Stir continuously for a couple minutes, or until it begins to thicken slightly. Add the pasta water (don’t skip this part — the starch in the water from the pasta will help thicken the sauce), salt, and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens — 3 – 4 minutes — then add the remaining tablespoon of butter and whisk to combine. Add the pasta and coat well with sauce, cooking until the pasta has reached al dente. Add the cheese and lemon juice and stir to combine, tasting and seasoning with additional salt if necessary. Toss with the broccoli and top with toasted almonds.