Thursday, 31 March 2011

Purple Broccoli


The early parts of March can be sort of a drag here weather-wise in London; very grey, fluxoating between dry and wet, mild warmth and lingering cold. Thats why I try to remember that at this same time of year something very colorful is coming. Right around the middle of March purple broccoli is breaking through the dull tones of the haze catching the eyes and beckoning the tongue, pan, knife and fork. 
Heres what you might want to do when this happens: 


serves 2 

-1 large head of Purple Sprouting Broccoli (Americans - you might not be able to find this anywhere but my bet is that you should check the local farmers markets or possibly a fancy organic store - if nothing you can substitute broccoli rabe to similar effect)
-250 g of fresh tagliatelle or taglialette or you could get away with papardelle or fettucini 
-3 tbsp unsalted butter 
-1/3 cup pine nuts - roasted or toasted in dry skillet 
-1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper 
-2 cloves garlic - crushed into a paste 

-1 or 2 tbsp heavy cream depending on your cream love ("whipping cream" if your stateside) 
-fresh grated Parmesan for serving 

Begin by setting a large pot for boiling pasta and broccoli over high heat. Chop the tough bottom part off of the broccoli head. Then chop the whole head of broccoli into pieces no bigger than an inch (leaves and all - its all good). 

Once the water boils salt it well and then add in the pasta and gently stir. Add in the chopped broccoli about 2 mins after you add in the pasta. You just want to soften the broccoli not cook the life out of it, so if your pasta requires a long cooking time then wait a bit longer before adding in the broccoli. The broccoli should really only boil for about 4 minutes - until it is slightly firm to the touch and easy to eat. 

Reserve at least 1/4 cup of pasta water then drain pasta and broccoli and set aside. 

Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once it starts to foam up a bit add the pine nuts and ground pepper. Just as the butter is beginning to brown (after about 5 mins) add in the garlic paste. Cook an additional minute then remove from heat. (This step can be done while pasta and broccoli cooks if your up for it.) 

Return pasta and broccoli to large pot, add in the reserved pasta water, the brown butter and pine nuts, and the heavy cream. Toss to incorporate ingredients, check if salt is needed, then serve with the grated parmesan.