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Penne with Broccoli (Aglio e Olio)

This dish is one of my favorites and is really a variation on a theme. It's basically a broccoli version (the one I cook most) of aglio e olio...or pasta with garlic (aglio) and oil (olio). To make this dish at home takes little time and will cost you pennies; to order this popular dish in a restaurant will take about the same time to prepare but cost you dollars.

The ingredients and variations are seemingly long as there is garlic and oil (I also incorporate hot peppers). Another ingredient I use is chicken broth...this can be omitted and use vegetable broth if you are a vegetarian, but by adding (and then reducing) the broth the flavors literally burst in your not be deceived by the simplicity of the is incredibly flavorful, and nutritious as well. Anyhow, this is how to do it.

Place minced onion, garlic, hot pepper, grey sea salt (kosher salt would be fine also), and a little extra virgin olive oil in a cold pan. Yes, this is one of the few times a professional cook will tell you to start with a cold pan...chefs usually cook with scorching hot hot pans. But starting with a cold pan and then cooking these ingredients slowly draws their flavor out which then permeate the entire dish. Anyhow, then cook these ingredients over a low flame for 5 or 10 minutes until the garlic begins to brown...your kitchen will also be permeated with these lovely aromas. While this is cooking you'll also want to boil some pasta...whatever shape suites your fancy (I used whole wheat penne).

Then add broccoli (or whatever vegetable you feel like eating or have on hand) along with a few ounces of chicken broth. Cook the vegetables and simmer broth until the broth is reduced in volume and the vegetables are nearly cooked.

Add the pasta and allow it to cook and absorb the remaining broth and other flavors of the recipe. Just before you take it of the flame stir in a fair amount of either Parmesan or Romano cheese.

The entire dish was ready in the time that it took to boil the pasta.

Quick. Simple. Flavorful. Nutritious. But most is delicious.


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