Florence Broccoli Orecchiette Pasta
PREP TIME: 15mins
COOKING TIME: 25mins
Blitzed broccoli fried in a combination of olive oil, garlic, lemon and red peppers, tossed with freshly cooked pasta and topped with crunchy pumpkin seed breadcrumbs.
A fantastic way to get a truckload of ‘good-for-you’ broccoli into a quick meal as the broccoli and pasta all cook at the same time.
I came up with this recipe when we rented a tiny flat in Florence and I only had a few things in the fridge, such a good memory.
The absolute key to this dish is good seasoning. Don’t hold back on the extra virgin olive oil, use a good salt, freshly grated garlic, organic lemons and freshly cracked pepper – you will be rewarded!
Getting Ahead: the broccoli can be made a few days ahead. The breadcrumbs can also be made a few days ahead and stored in a airtight container in the fridge or cupboard.
Seasonal Swaps: you can use cauliflower instead of broccoli but bearing in mind that you will have a rather white looking dish! You can use any pasta here although I feel the short pastas (rigatoni, fussili and penne) works better. You can use any herbs here, but as a rule I prefer to use soft herbs to season at the end, think parsley, basil and tarragon.
Zero Waste: you can use the whole broccoli here including the stalk, just remove the really hard end bit of the stalk. Save & freeze the parsley stems to use in stocks or soups later.
Feeds 4 generously
Feel free to add fresh chillis too for colour & flavour. A few scatterings of strong pecorino or parmesan will also be lovely.
What you'll need:
A food processor to blitz the broccoli. If you don’t have a food processor you can chop the broccoli really finely.
- 250g orecchiette pasta
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 1 cup really good extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 small organic lemons
- 1/2 red pepper, very finely chopped
- 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (opt)
- handful of fresh herbs, finely chopped
- salt & pepper
Pumpkin Seed Breadcrumbs
- 4 slices sourdough bread, roughly torn or cut into chunks
- 4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- drizzle of olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Add the torn bread and seeds to the baking tray. Season with olive oil, salt & pepper and mix well with your hands, bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. The bread will harden as it cools down. You can blitz in a food processor until a rough crumb or chop roughly with a knife.
- Cook the pasta in well salted boiling water until al dente – soft but with a bite to it, drain and reserve a few tablespoons of pasta water. Add the pasta and the pasta water back to the saucepan.
- While the pasta is cooking let’s fry some broccoli in batches. In a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add a good glug of olive oil, add some pepper, chilli and about 2 cups of broccoli at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (adding less if your pan is smaller). Fry the broccoli for a few minutes and then add a good pinch of salt, pepper and grate in some garlic. Fry for a further 3 minutes or until the broccoli is tender but still have texture to them, adding more oil as needed. Tip the broccoli into a baking dish and season with lemon juice, lemon zest and more seasoning if needed. Repeat until all the broccoli is cooked and seasoned to perfection.
- Add the broccoli to the pasta and mix well, have a taste and season for the last time with more lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- To serve, divide the pasta to four bowls, sprinkle over the pumpkin seed breadcrumbs, black pepper and a final drizzle of olive oil.