I am not sure when it happened but somehow broccoli became one of my favorite vegetables. It just tastes so good regardless of how you cook it. It absorbs all the delicious sauce in a stir fry. It gets an amazing flavor when you roast it in the oven. It even tastes delicious when you saute it with some olive oil, garlic and a little red pepper flakes.
In all the times that I have cooked broccoli (and trust me I have cooked it a ton) I have never used the stems or even thought of using the stems. I mean maybe when I was cooking broccolini or broccoli rabe did I use the stems, but never when cooking their big brother.
So when I stumbled on the pasta and broccoli recipe in my Cooking 1 2 3 by Rozanne Gold (highly recommend this one!) that used the ENTIRE broccoli I had to try it. The gist of the book – every recipe uses only 3 ingredients (salt and pepper do not count). It’s pretty amazing. I generally reserve the book for fish or meat recipes and was pretty excited when I discovered the pasta section.
First you take a large head of broccoli (or two small) and cut off the florets leaving each with about a 1/2 inch stem. Set the florets aside. Then use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off the stem of the broccoli. Cut the stem into 1 inch pieces and place them in 1 and 1/2 cups of salted water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium cover and cook for 25 minutes. The stem pieces become soft and translucent.
Transfer the broccoli stems and water to a blender (or in my case a food processor) and puree. Then add 1/2 a stick of butter (or 4 tablespoons) cut into small pieces and blend with the broccoli puree, salt and pepper. Transfer back to a clean saucepan and slowly reheat.
Meanwhile boil a pot of salted water to cook the pasta. When water is boiling add pasta and cook according to box directions. With 3 to 4 minutes left on the pasta add the broccoli florets to the water.
When finished cooking drain the pasta and broccoli and plate. Pour the sauce over and serve.
So I couldn’t resist and had to taste the sauce mid-cooking. I have to say I was a little nervous it was super salty but somehow when added with the pasta and broccoli everything balanced each other out. It was pretty delicious – basically it tasted like pasta with butter and broccoli (I mean isn’t that exactly what it was?). I will definitely think twice now before tossing those broccoli stems.