This recipe was inspired by one my mother gave me that uses sun-dried tomatoes, which are great, too, though they need to be soaked and cut into thin strips. It helps to have a spider, a large mesh scoop, to scoop the broccoli out of the water. Save time by buying pitted olives, available in many olive bars or in jars.
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
3 garlic cloves, minced
14ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 bunch broccoli (about 10-12 ounces with stem on)
12 ounces orecchiette pasta (see Note)
1/3 to 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or other black olives, each cut into 3-4 rounds
Salt and hot red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup shaved or grated Parmesan cheese (see Note)
Instructions: Place a large pot of well-salted water over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Place the onion and olive oil in a saute pan and saute over medium-low until tender, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the broccoli.
Remove the stems from the broccoli. Peel well or trim the fibrous skin off with a large knife, then chop the stems and florets into 1/2-inch pieces. Blanch in the boiling water for about 2 minutes, then remove with a spider. Remove and set aside 1/2 cup of the broccoli-cooking water. Return the water in the pot to a boil and immediately add the pasta. Cook according to package instructions.
Stir the broccoli into the pasta sauce along with the reserved 1/2 cup water. Continue to simmer the sauce over low heat. To maintain its color, stir the broccoli often and don’t cover.
When the pasta is done, drain, reserving another 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Stir the pasta into the sauce with the olives. If it needs more moisture, add the water and stir over low heat. Season to taste with salt and hot red pepper flakes, and drizzle with olive oil.
Serve immediately in shallow bowls. Top with the Parmesan.
Note: Orecchiette is a round, cup-shaped pasta. Fusilli or penne rigate pasta work well, too. Use a vegetable peeler to shave a chunk of Parmesan cheese into long, thin strips or shards.
Per serving: 530 calories, 18 g protein, 83 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat (3 g saturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 525 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.