Weekly Winner: For St. Patrick’s Day – “Green” Pasta?

IMG_0416As much as I enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day I am totally not a fan of the typical corned beef meal.  I’ll state it right here – I dislike Corned Beef!  So sue me.  Instead of going the traditional route, I decide to embrace the green.  Natural green that is, not food colored bread, beer or in the case of Friday night’s dinner pasta.  So what was for dinner?  Broccoli Bolognese with Orecchiette.

This dish actually makes broccoli feel decadent and luxurious.  Yes, there’s butter…. yes, there’s cheese…. yes, there’s pork (yay!) but overall this is veggie-heavy dish that tastes like a cheat meal.

The recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine. It’s relatively quick, it’s relatively easy, it’s relatively healthy and it is a wonderful substitute to corned beef in my book.

Broccoli Bolognese with Orecchiette

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of broccoli (1¼–1½ pounds), cut into florets, stalk peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 12 ounces fresh Italian sausage (about 3 links), casings removed
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving

Procedure:

  • Cook broccoli in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a colander and let cool (save pot of water for cooking pasta). Chop broccoli into small pieces; set aside.

  • Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook garlic, shaking skillet occasionally, until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add sausage and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and break up meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up sausage, until it is browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes.

  • Bring reserved pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until barely al dente, about 9 minutes (set a timer for 3 minutes less than the package instructions; it will cook more in the skillet).

  • Meanwhile, ladle about ½ cup pasta cooking liquid from pot into skillet with sausage and add blanched broccoli. Keep mixture at a low simmer, stirring often and mashing with spoon to break up sausage even more, until pasta is finished cooking.

  • Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, then ladle in ½ cup pasta water. Cook, stirring, until pasta absorbs most of the liquid and is just al dente, about 4 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted, then transfer pasta to a large bowl. Gradually add 1½ oz. Parmesan, tossing constantly until you have a glossy, emulsified sauce.

  • Serve pasta topped with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes and a drizzle of oil.

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