Broccoli and Pine Nut Penne

Yes, another vegetarian recipe.

It looks great, it tastes really surprisingly good, and the more broccoli you get in you, the better.

You will need:

  • About two of those big chunky stems of broccoli
  • One or two fresh red chillies
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • Penne pasta
  • Olive oil
  • A few handfuls of pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese, homes
  • Cracked black pepper and salt

This one’s a bit tricky, because you have to have several things on the go at once. Four hobs on your stove at once, really, if you want to do it quickly. First, prepare everything:

  1. Chop the broccoli so only the stems at the end with the dark-green stuff is used. (Florets or something, apparently.)
  2. Finely chop the garlic cloves up.
  3. Deseed and finely chop the chilli.

That wasn’t so hard. Now, all four hobs at once. Whoo!

This is what those hobs are doing.

  1. A fry-pan with four tablespoons of olive oil in it, heating the chilli and garlic. Stir often and make sure it doesn’t burn. Once you figure (smell) all of the garlicky goodness infused with the oil, lower the heat and just keep it warm/hottish.
  2. A dry fry-pan with the pine nuts in it, roasting them. It is absurdly easy to burn pine nuts, so just go about it slowly, rattling them around occasionally. You want slightly brown, not dark brown or black. Once you’re happy with them, pour them into a bowl, as leaving them in the pan might overcook them when you’re not looking.
  3. A big pot of salted boiling water with the broccoli in it – about 10 minutes will do it. Don’t add them till it’s boiling.
  4. A big pot of salted boiling water with the penne in it. Definitely going for al-dente here. You should always eat your pasta al dente, because it lowers the GI of the pasta and releases energy into your body more slowly. Plus, this meal won’t look as cool if you overcook the penne.

When the broccoli’s done, drain it, return it to the pot and mash it like potatoes. Yes, that’s right, mash the broccoli. It’s very good for you, by the way, and has been proven to reduce your chances of all kinds of cancer. Put that aside. If the penne’s taking forever, maybe leave the broccoli on the lowest heat possible, to keep it warm. You don’t want it steaming dry or anything, though.

When the penne’s done and drained, mix the chilli, garlic and oil with the broccoli, a turn or two of black pepper and salt, then throw in the pine nuts and mix it all around, then put the penne in and mix it all around too. If you leave the penne to dry a little bit before mixing it in, the pasta itself will suck up a bit of the oil and flavour, which is really the point. Pasta should be flavoured by its sauce, not just be a delivery mechanism for it (hat-tip to Glynn Christian).

Serve it up immediately and throw some shaved or grated parmesan over the top of it.

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