I make a lot of impromptu pasta dishes for the boy. Because he's hungry around six p.m. and his dad rarely gets back before eight p.m. it's inevitable that we eat separately. I try to give him leftovers from our dinner whenever possible so that I don't raise a picky eater. We like spicy food, though, and sometimes we just finish eating everything. When that happens, I usually boil some pasta and improvise a cheese and vegetable combination. Peas, carrots, a bit of ham if I have any about - they all go in the bowl and he seems happy enough with the result.
He even likes broccoli. His dad thinks I cast a spell on him or force fed it to him until he gave in, but really he just decided he liked it from the word go. I was thinking of him, when I decided to make this dish for his dad and myself this week. Broccoli, mushrooms (because I can't resist them with pasta), garlic and cheese in a wonderfully fragrant and filling dish. It's not much of a recipe, but it was so delicious that I'm going to write it up anyway.
Kieran's Broccoli Pasta
I had originally planned on adding cream and bacon to this dish as both are wonderful with broccoli. But in the end, I opted for simplicity and healthy ingredients. The broccoli and garlic give the dish a lot of punch and the nutmeg, in my opinion, rounds it out nicely, complimenting the cheese and the pasta. But if you want to be exciting, you could sprinkle a bit of crisply fried bacon over the top.
1 small head of broccoli
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped very fine
75 grams butter
250 grams rotini pasta
150 grams mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt, to taste
Wash the broccoli and break it up into small florets. I also peel the thick trunk and slice it in thin tiles. Set them in a steamer over boiling water. Start water boiling for the pasta. Melt half the butter in a frying pan and add the garlic. (I usually smash the cloves with a wooden mallet, which makes them easier to peel and does half the work of chopping them too.) Once the garlic is soft and starting to smell nice, you can add the mushrooms. I leave mine until the garlic gets a little brown on the edges but not everyone likes the slightly bitter edge it gets. At this point, you can add the pasta to the boiling water and check the broccoli. Remove the broccoli from the flame as soon as it's tender, as overcooked broccoli is just not pleasant. Once the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Toss it with the garlic and mushroom butter and add the nutmeg. Stir in the broccoli and a little over half the cheese. Taste for salt and serve with the remaining cheese to garnish.