However, when I think of this dish, I remember it as my mother’s. It was a family favorite so she made it often. It was the dish that most people requested when coming to our house for dinner. She became famous for it. It’s one of those dishes that people actually moan with delight while eating. Now we all have had pasta with broccoli, and perhaps you don’t remember any moaning, but I believe that there are two ingredients in this recipe (that are usually not used), that make the difference between “moaning” and just “enjoying.” These are anchovies and onions (no garlic at all). Also, cooking the broccoli and the pasta together, in the same salted water, adds to the flavor. Cavatelli is what we use, but certain pastas such as ziti works wonderfully. I have also used a pasta made from faro in this dish, and it is very tasty. However, myy family are purists, especially with traditional recipes (they want the taste to be exactly as they remember), so 99% of the time, I use cavatelli. One more note….. if you really don’t like anchovies, you can eliminate them. The taste will be somewhat different, but still delicious. Most people don’t even realize that there is anchovy in this, and are shocked when I tell them. You also can control how much you use. Even 1 or 2 filets will make a difference that I think you will enjoy. And of course, if you love anchovies, then go for it! I would love to hear your comments about this.
2 heads of broccoli,
1 1/2 onions, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 to 1 can of anchovy filets (or more or less or none)
2 pounds cavatelli
crushed red pepper, if you like
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut the broccoli into florets. Remove stems and slice into 2 inch pieces. This allows the broccoli to cook through evenly.
2. Bring a large pot(large enough to hold both the broccoli and the pasta together) of salted water to a boil.
3. Add the broccoli. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Add the pasta. Stir.
4. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft. If you want some heat, add the red pepper flakes. After the onion has softened, add the anchovy filets and stir until dissolved. You can add one filet at a time to see how it goes.
5. Add 2 scoops of pasta water to the onions. Reserve another scoop or two, just in case you desire more.
6. When pasta and broccoli are done, drain and put in a large bowl. Pour onion mixture over and stir.
*Traditionally, Italians do not put cheese on pasta that contains fish. However, I like a little Parmigiano on this.
** My husband always adds a little olive oil to the pasta and stirs before dressing it with the sauce. I have seen this done elsewhere as well. You might want to give it a try here or on any pasta recipe.
*** You will want to keep the moaning to a minimum. People might get the wrong idea!!