Much as I love baked pasta dishes (like the ones oozing with bechamel sauce, melted cheese and an assortment of wild mushrooms and prosciutto – or a more traditional lasagna verde perhaps), on occasion there’s nothing nicer than a simple pasta dish that takes no more that 20 minutes to prepare.
The fewer the ingredients the better, provided you use only the very best quality; for instance, spaghetti or linguini with garlic, Italian parsley, toasted breadcrumbs, extra virgin olive oil, and the best Parmigiano Reggiano that money can buy …absolutely perfect.
This simple recipe is one of my favorites and combines broccoli, anchovies, garlic, chili, optional sun-dried tomatoes (I used a small squirt of sun-dried tomato paste in a tube here) – and lots of good, hard Italian cheese. Pecorino, Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano all work really well and the end result is delicious and totally satisfying.
There’s nothing fishy-tasting about it and anchovy-phobes will detect just an unidentifiable richness that complements the other ingredients – and just so you know, leaving out the anchovies will result in something that tastes rather flat; not awful but not wonderful either.
SPAGHETTI with BROCCOLI, GARLIC, ANCHOVIES & CHILI
1lb (455g) of spaghetti
2 good-sized heads of broccoli, trimmed into equal-sized florets
¼ cup (60ml) of extra virgin olive oil
2oz (56g) of butter
3-4 fat cloves of garlic, chopped
5-6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
¼ cup (60ml) of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced (or equivalent sun dried tomato paste)
¼ teaspoon of red chili pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ – 1 cup (120-240ml measure) of grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (or whatever you prefer, just make sure its Italian and really good)
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the broccoli. Cook for 4 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon, keeping the water. Drain the broccoli and set it aside.
Cook the spaghetti in the broccoli water according to instructions – it needs to be ‘al dente’.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and butter over a medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic, anchovies and chili flakes – cook for about 5 minutes until the anchovies have dissolved and the garlic is just golden. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli florets and toss well to heat through -season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Drain the pasta quickly then add it to the broccoli in the sauté pan, along with a small amount of the pasta cooking water if it looks a little dry.
Serve in warmed bowls with plenty of grated cheese to pass around.