Monday, March 28, 2011

Roasted Broccolini and Spaghetti con Aglio e Olio

Oh, broccolini, you are our new favorite vegetable!  Broccolini, or "Baby Broccoli" is not actually baby broccoli at all.  It is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale and is similar to broccoli but is sweeter and has slim, tender, fully-edible stems (no waste!).  It's been available at SuperTarget lately in a package for $1.88.  Sweet! Normally, I'm not crazy about SuperTarget's produce (sorry, I love just about everything else about you, Red), but the broccolini has been a great find.  Roasted with a little bit of olive oil and salt, it makes a great side or addition to pasta (as shown here with Spaghetti con aglio e olio--garlic and olive oil--and sauteed chicken).  Roasting is great technique to apply to all kinds of vegetables (just follow the preparation below but adjust the time depending on what you're roasting--cauliflower is amazing, carrots are incredible, sweet potatoes cut into matchsticks are healthy fries! Delicious!). 

Roasted Broccolini
1 8 oz. package broccolini, washed (or substitute broccoli florets)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread broccolini in an even layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast in oven for 12-15 minutes, or until crisp-tender and the edges begin to brown.  Season with pepper and additional salt to taste. 

 Spaghetti con Aglio e Olio
This is a super-simple, quick pasta dish that you probably already have almost all the ingredients on hand.  Don't be worried about the large amount of garlic, the flavor mellows and sweetens as it cooks.  Enjoy plain or add some sauteed chicken or shrimp and vegetables like the roasted broccolini (above).
(Closely adapted from Barefoot Contessa's "How Easy is That?")
kosher salt
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/3 cup good olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving (I won't judge you for using the pre-shredded either since that makes a frequent appearance at our house)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add two tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to package directions.  Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.  Return the pasta to the cooking pot and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until it just begins to turn golden on the edges--don't overcook it! Burned garlic turns bitter and cannot be salvaged.  Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more.  Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.

Pour the garlic sauce over the warm pasta and toss to combine.  Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well.  Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce to be absorbed.  Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side. 

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