Broccoli Pasta

Serves 4

While pasta primavera, with vegetables and a tomato sauce, is a lovely way to fortify a nice dish of pasta with some vitamin rich veggies, there are many other easy and exciting ways to pair the two. Broccoli and pasta is a big favorite in my house, served straight up without the added complexity of a tomato sauce.   When serving this dish, i choose orecchiette, which are the little ear shaped pastas popular in Italy, but you cannot go wrong with any of the bite-sized shapes including penne, mezze penne or fusilli. Keep in mind that you can always add other vegetables to this recipe, but I like it best like this as it captures the full and simple flavor of the broccoli. As a side note,  while cooks in my native Italy generously salt the pasta water, I recommend going lightly when cooking for kids as their taste buds are still forming and it pays to get them used to food that has less salt.

1 lb pasta
1 head of broccoli
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a large pot bring 4 quarts of water to boil. If you do add salt, add approximately. 1 teaspoon per quart of water. Dont be afraid to go lightly as you can always add more salt, later.
Clean the broccoli, removing hard stems, and peeling smaller stems.  Cut stems into 1/4 inch slices. Separate florets into smaller pieces.
Once the water is boiling, add the pasta, the smaller stem pieces, and continue to boil.
Add the florets to the water for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Florets will blanch as the pasta cooks to al dente.
Drain pasta and brocolli without running under cold water or shaking the pasta too vigorously. Preserve some of the cooking liquid in case your pasta seems too dry as this reduces the amount of olive oil necessary.
Mix the pasta with the olive oil, the parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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