Rigatoni with Tender Broccoli, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Crispy Breadcrumbs
I have been seeing this skinny-stemmed cousin of the regular, chunky broccoli on the shelves at the supermarket for a couple of weeks now, so I thought I would give it a go. The Germans call it "Spargoli", which is a made-up name, referring to the similarity, visually, between the thickness and color of the stems and those of green asparagus, or "Spargel" as it is called here. A silly name for a super veggie! It has a slightly more bitter flavor than regular broccoli and a nice texture and bite and made for a yummy supper this evening... I am glad I have more left over to create another dish soon! But first, to this plate of light and Summery yumminess!
Let's start off by preparing the "extras" here... so first of all- toast a handful of pine nuts in a dry pan. As Soon as they are done, remove them and fry a couple of rashers of bacon in the same pan... again- no added fat please!! While the bacon is frying, finely chop some parsley and grate some lemon zest. Once the bacon is done, remove it from the pan and add the lemon and parsley and some breadcrumbs. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and keep stirring until the breadcrumbs are crispy and brown. The sun-dried tomato tastes better if you let it soak in a little boiling water for 5-10 minutes for this dish- it makes it a little milder and a little less saltiness and intensity works better in this dish.
So now we are going to start cooking! I went about boiling the pasta in a rather unorthodox way- aren't you glad I did the experimenting and not you? Especially as I can report that it was a complete success? Well I should hope that you do! What I did was, that I boiled the pasta in a mixture of half water-half milk. As soon as this was boiling, I added a crushed clove of garlic and the pasta. As soon as the water comes back up to the boil, add the broccoli. Allow to simmer and remove the broccoli after 5 minutes, after which time it is just perfectly cooked and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process and keep the nice, vibrant green coloring. Whilst you have been busy with the broccoli, the pasta has finished cooking and can now also be drained. Good, eh? It just makes it so nice and easy to time!
Now pop the drained rigatoni back into your frying pan with a little olive oil, toss it gently to get it coated and add the breadcrumbs. Whilst the pasta is warming up again, chop up some mozzarella and pitted black olives, so that you can sprinkle them along with the toasted pine nuts and the crispy bacon, onto your wonderfully tasty, crispy pasta... delicious! Arrange on a dish along with the tender broccoli, grate with nutmeg, grind with mixed peppers and enjoy piping hot with a glass of cold white wine! Again- another quick, easy and cheap meal that is flavorful and good- and that's what I call real home cooking!