I have mentioned my Italian helpmate to you before, waxing lyrical about my lovely Italian providore – she is always full of good hints, tips and general information. I get all my pasta from there. Not that it is particularly better than anywhere else, but there are ALWAYS stories and tips to go with the packet of (essentially) dried flour and water.
When I picked up some vermicelli pasta for a minestrone soup, she told me how much she loves vermicelli with broccoli. Not much else needed, she said. And, well, she is right. You will love the simplicity of this dish and it will become your favourite Friday night pasta dish.
Vermicelli Pasta with Charred Broccoli
Cook. enough vermicelli pasta for 2 people in well-salted water.
Meanwhile take a head of broccoli and separate into florets. Cook them by steaming them until bright green and tender, or alternatively Pan Roast them till charred and tender. If pan roasting them, through in some sliced garlic at the half way point.
In a bowl place a little olive oil, a Tblspn or 2, and add a ladle of the hot pasta cooking water. You can add a minced 0.5 – 1 clove garlic if you wish. A splash of vinegar or lemon juice will enliven the dish.
When the pasta is cooked, add to the bowl and toss with half the cooked broccoli. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with a few more florets on top of the pasta and a grating of parmesan cheese.
recipe notes and alternatives
Add some toasted flaked almonds, chopped parsley, some toasted breadcrumbs and/or halved grape tomatoes if desired.
Use penne, orecchiete or fusilli as alternative pastas.
Similar pasta can be made with steamed cauliflower. In fact any veg or combination of veg can be used in this way – even greens, potatoes, turnips. Chickpeas or cooked dried beans are also good.
The broccoli or cauliflower can be smashed a little before mixing with the pasta. It will need to be quite tender if you want to smash it.
If simmering or steaming the broccoli or cauliflower, cook the pasta in the water used for the vegetable. To use all of that flavour, while you are eating your dinner, cook potatoes in the pasta water and keep them for tomorrow’s salads. Then finally, cook some dried beans in that potato water. Add them to tomorrow’s salad or add to a tomato sauce and bake with cheese on top.