17 January 2011

Creamy broccoli pasta: the photo that launched a thousand blog posts

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This is the photo that started it all. Prior to the Kangaroo Ragout, this humble photo of my crazy-eyed, hunger-fuelled, put-it-all-in-a-wok experimentation for dinner was posted on F&c^book and someone asked for the "recipe" at work and I didn't really have one. In fact I then commented on the photo with: "Papardelle with (Latina fresh/cheat's) creamy carbonara sauce with shredded butter & lemon burnt chicken, smooshy broccoli, chili, pine nuts, pancetta strips and approx half a block of Parmesan. In a wok."

A similar (blurry, hypoglycaemically framed) photo was also greeted with enthusiasm by friends and workmates:

I've always loved a creamy broccoli pasta dish, inspired by my very beautiful local Italian restaurant which is a blink-and-you-miss-it hole in the wall which just so happens to be in the Good Food Guide, and was the site of my very beautiful thirtieth birthday party. Their dish is usually long pasta or orecchiette with creamy broccoli sauce or just a simple olive oil, chilli and broccholi quilt for the pasta. (They don't have a set menu, just specials for the day that update throughout the day according to freshness and the chef's creativity.)

So here we go, a beautiful but basic broccoli bite for a home cooked dinner:

Boil broccoli pieces and pasta (wide long and flat is good eg papardelle, fettucini, linguine or even use lasagne sheets and slice them into extra wide noodley strips) in a big pot of salted water.

Meanwhile heat up another pan (or wok) - toast some pine nuts on the surface as it heats up. Then add a generous amount of butter and/or olive oil with lots of lemon juice and dried chilli flakes & cracked pepper. In this mix, brown some chopped up chicken, with optional chopped onion. By now the broccoli and pasta should be cooked - drain and add them to the chicken pan. Pour over some store-bought creamy sauce (eg Latina Fresh or jar-fresh) over and mix. Grate or slice over a huge mountain of Parmesan. Top with optional roasted crispy pancetta (or proscuitto) strips. Fresh herbs on top as you wish and hey presto, a substantial almost-one-pot wonder (if you cooked in serial instead of parallel you could just use one pot). For vego just omit the chicken (and pancetta).