My son is the worst when it comes to eating veggies. He’ll smash a raw carrot or a cob of corn with no complaint, but when it comes to other cooked vegetables, he flat-out refuses. That means no fried rice, no stir-frys, no meat-and-three-veg for him. It’s very annoying, especially when you’re trying to get some kind of greenery into their little bods.
Broccoli, the world’s greatest veg, has always been a hard no for him, but a couple of years ago I cooked a childhood fave I grew up with for din-dins and it was a goddamn success. It’s not his all-time fave, but he smashes it and I feel like a fucking hero as a result, so it’s all good.
Look, this isn’t exactly the healthiest meal in history, but it tastes like a fuckin’ party in your mouth and will take you all of 15 minutes to prepare so, you know, it’s a winner. If you grew up in an Italian family, this dish is (or was) probably on high rotation at your joint too, but if you haven’t tried it, give it a go. It’s the best.
This recipe feeds my fam of four, but we are pretty hectic eaters, so it might yield a leftover or two if you’re more versed in portion control than us.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- 1-2 heads of broccoli
- 1 500g packet of pasta (I like spirals, but you can pretty much use whatever).
- Olive oil (amount discussed in method)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
WHAT TO DO:
- Pop a large pot of water on the stove and bring to boil. Salt generously, so it basically tastes like the ocean.
- While your water is boiling, chop your broccoli up into smallish pieces, so the florets are roughly half their size – and don’t forget to use the stalk. It’s the best bit.
- When your water is on a rapid boil, pop the pasta and broccoli in to cook together.
- Now, here’s where you’re gonna get generous with the old olive oil. Plonk a shit tonne in a large frying pan and by a shit tonne, I mean make sure the entire bottom of that pan is totally covered and even coming up the sides a little. Do not be tight with the oil here, it’s important. Pop on a low/medium heat.
- Peel and cut garlic cloves in half and chuck those babies into their olive oil bath. While your pasta and broc combo is boiling, swish the garlic around and let it get all nice and soft but DON’T burn it. Burnt garlic tastes like bitter sadness. Remove garlic from the pan when it seems like it’s had enough. *Please see note on garlic at the bottom.
- Once your pasta and broc is cooked (and your oil is nice and hot and fragrant from the garlic), strain the pasta and broc, but keep a bit of the cooking water aside.
- Pop the broccoli and pasta into the garlic-infused oil in the pan and stir. I like to mush up the broccoli instead of keeping it in pieces and I highly recommend doing this. The oil and broccoli essentially become the ‘sauce’ of this dish and they are glorious.
- Add a bit of the pasta/broccoli water you reserved and ladle in a little at a time. This just keeps everything juicy, but you don’t want to actually see the water if that makes sense. It’s just there to add a bit of moisture.
- Taste for salt. If you’re a salt fiend like me, add some more and stir. If not, congratulations on your healthy choices.
- Dish up in bowls and feel free to get creative. I think a grating of parmesan on top is heaven, but my husbo strongly disagrees, so go with what you like here. You can also go wild with the chilli if that turns you on. Live on the edge.
*Just a word on the garlic: If you’re a big fan, feel free to crush your cloves and keep them in the oil instead of removing. I’m phobic about the stench of garlic breath, which is why I remove it, but it’d probably be even more epic with the crushed garlic. You do you, boo.
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