Hey guys, October is National Pasta Month! Did you know that? While researching on the net I came across some interesting information about it. Well, interesting to a pasta loving Italian-American like me. The first commercial pasta plant in the U.S. was founded in Brooklyn, New York in 1848. By the turn of the century the industry had grown to the point that a large number of members got together to discuss issues concerning manufacturing and marketing. As a result, the National Macaroni Manufacturer's Association was established. It wasn't until 1981 that the name was changed to the National Pasta Association. Now, that makes sense to me because, as a child growing up, I never remember hearing my parents or especially my Italian grandparents, use the word "pasta". It was always "maccheroni".
O.k. enough with the history lesson.....this pasta dish is one of my family's favorites. There's nothing fancy about it, but it's delicious! And if you're a broccoli lover, this is for you!
Macaroni with Broccoli
(recipe from We called It Macaroni...An American Heritage of Southern Italian Cooking by Nancy Verde Barr)
1 large bunch broccoli, about 2 pounds
4 tblsp. butter, melted and kept warm
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
4 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 # penne pasta
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
First of all, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Just a note: When cooking pasta, use a lot of water so the pasta has room to float around a lot. Also, after the water has come to a boil, add a good amount of salt before adding the pasta...probably more than you think. The water should be salty like the sea. This is your opportunity to get the seasoning into the pasta. One more thing....no oil in the water please, unless your cooking wide, flat pieces like lasagna, etc. All that water will keep the pasta from sticking. The oil will actually prevent your sauce from adhering.
Divide the florets from the broccoli stems. Peel the stems and cut them roughly into 2" pieces. Cook them in the boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Then add the florets and cook for another 4 minutes, or until everything is tender. Drain, drop into cold water to stop the cooking, then drain again. Chop all of the broccoli into 1/2 " pieces and set aside. Now would be a good time to throw in the pasta.
Saute the garlic in the extra-virgin olive oil until lightly colored. ( Don't let it get dark or it will leave a bitter taste.) Remove the garlic from the oil and discard. Add the broccoli and heat through. Season it with salt and pepper and add the cooked and drained pasta, butter, and cheese. Toss and serve. I like to pass more cheese and good olive oil around at the table. This recipe will serve 6 (4 if you have hungry boys in the house).