Saturday, April 23, 2016


And still another veggie makes its Bookcook debut! Clearly, I’ve been feeling experimental lately. (Is it sad when one of the biggest thrills in your life is trying a new vegetable? Not to me.) I had tried broccolini (which is not baby broccoli, but a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli that my spell-checker doesn’t yet recognize) a few times on and off over the years and liked it, but it’s started making more reliable appearances at our farmers’ market, so I figured I’d better give a shot for real.

Naturally, I turned to pasta. The sausage-and-broccoli/broccolini/broccoli rabe combo is a classic one, but I had to comb through a surprising number of variations on Google that weren’t quite what I wanted before I found something near enough. I used this recipe from the Weekend Gourmande (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated) as a jumping-off point, doubling it and adding lemon zest and juice for a springy zip (what even is the point of a green vegetable without lemon?). I garnished with basil because I had some that needed to be used up, but it isn’t necessary. While hardly groundbreaking, this is a straightforward and delicious meal that lets the broccolini shine but gives veg-skeptics (ahem, A) enough meaty-spicy-cheesy-savory elements to sink their teeth into.

If you don’t want to shell out for broccolini (or just can’t find it), regular broccoli would work here. I’d love to try it with broccoli rabe sometime, but I’ve never spotted it at our farmers’ market. Broccolini does seem to be an up-and-comer, so maybe its cousin will be next to join the club.

1 pound orecchiette (or a short, curly pasta like rotini)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (hot or sweet), casings removed
4 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 to 1½ pounds broccolini (about 2 bunches), cut into 1-inch pieces, stems halved lengthwise if thick
1 to 1½ cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water before draining.
  2. Meanwhile, set a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s warm, add the olive oil and the Italian sausage. Cook until browned, breaking up the chunks with a spoon. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the broccolini, ½ teaspoon salt, and broth to the skillet. Cover for 2 minutes to steam, until broccolini is bright green. Remove lid and cook until broccolini is tender and most of the stock evaporates.
  4. Add drained pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest, and ½ cup Parmesan to the skillet and stir well, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with additional Parmesan on top.
Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.

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