The Best Broccoli Linguine
This dish has been lurking behind the scenes for months, maybe years. It’s the delicious, unglamorous, vegetarian, and speedy dinner that we eat once a week very happily. The Best Broccoli Linguine solves 82 percent of what-should-we-have-for-dinner dilemmas. The Best Broccoli Linguine is responsible for 100 percent of all the unmade calls for takeout–for the fact that I do not have a Seamless account.
One-quarter of the charm is the short ingredient list: broccoli, olive oil, garlic, pasta, and Parmesan. If you don’t have everything, the rundown is short enough to assure your supermarket stop is rapid. Another quarter is about ease and speed: you boil water, you break up the broc, you peel the garlic. By the time the pasta is cooked, the vegetable is ready to sauce it. The third piece has to do with health: while this isn’t a salad, it does deliver a whole lot of vegetable servings with your carbs, more than Pad Thai, more than dumplings. The final bit–and you have to trust me on this, because I know that florets cooked past emerald to that more muted, nameless shade of green might not appear incredibly appealing–is that this is so, so tasty.
It’s tasty by design. Years of regretting overpriced, much too large take-out orders taught me that access to ingredients and the ability to boil water isn’t always enough to deter you from paying someone else to make you dinner. You have to want the thing you’re offering yourself.
To make the pedestrian offerings of broccoli and dry pasta truly crave-able, I cook the broccoli in a good bit of oil, for a while (the same amount of time that it takes water to boil and pasta to cook, incidentally). This helps bring out the flavors, and it makes a simple vegetable taste really satisfying. I try not to skimp on oil or time. The slowness of cooking also reduces quite a large amount of florets into an unintimidating portion. When I combine the pasta with the falling apart (don’t call it overcooked!) broccoli, I add some pasta cooking water, which transforms two parts into one whole. I sample a bite, adjusting the seasonings, thinking always to myself that this is the best weeknight dinner there is.
And then I unapologetically pile on the Parm.
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 large head broccoli, rinsed well, top part of stem and florets cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ pound linguine
- ½ cup packed grated Parmesan cheese
- Set a large pot of water to boil for the linguine.
- Grab your biggest skillet with a lid. You can also use a Dutch oven. Let heat up over medium heat for 5 minutes (you can do some of your prep work while it's heating up). Add the oil and the garlic. Let the garlic sizzle for about a minute, stirring occasionally. You don't want it to take on much color. As soon as it gets slightly golden, add the broccoli pieces with any water that's still clinging to them. Cook, stirring nearly constantly, for about 3 minutes, to let the broccoli take on some color and the flavor of the garlicky oil. Add ¼ cup of water from the pot for the pasta, then turn the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until the broccoli is so soft you can easily mash it, 10 to 15 minutes, checking often to make sure the vegetables aren't sticking. If the pan is drying out, add more water in ¼ cup increments. When soft, use a fork or a potato masher to break down the broccoli, especially the stems. If the pasta isn't ready yet when the broc is smashed, turn the heat off while you're waiting.
- When the water boils, add a good deal of salt and the linguine, stirring one. Cook until al dente, according to box directions. When pasta is ready, turn the heat under the broccoli pan back up to medium. Use a metal pasta spoon to scoop the linguine into the vegetable. Add about ½ cup of water and stir together to get the broken-down broc nicely incorporated into the noodles. Add most of the Parm and some more pasta water as needed to make a sort of creamy sauce. Turn off the heat and drizzle in some olive oil to finish. Mix once more. Serve in big bowls, garnished with the remaining Parm.
This post is part of Food Network’s Comfort Food Feast, where talented bloggers share their favorite dishes. See what pastas other participants cooked up below!
The Lemon Bowl: Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Peas and Ricotta
The Mediterranean Dish: Easy Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage and Fresh Mozzarella
Dishing with Divya: Homemade Maca and Cheese
Healthy Eats: 10 Pasta Dishes You Need in Your Life This Winter
Taste with the Eyes: Red Lentil Spaghetti (gluten-free) with Cauliflower Rosa Sauce (vegan)
The Mom 100: Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
Creative Culinary: Roasted Vegetable Pasta with Goat Cheese
FN Dish: Baked Pastas > Every Other Pasta