Fusilli with broccoli, chilli and garlic
This simple pasta dish is a classic from southern Italy. Usually you’d use orecchiette pasta for this dish, little ears that scoop up the green garlicky sauce. However, you can easily use another shape, as I have done here. The trick is in the seasoning. Make sure you salt the water for the broccoli really well (it should taste a little salty).
Sometimes you see this recipe with the addition of some anchovies for an extra umami hit. If you want to do this, just cook a few along with the garlic and chilli at the start of the recipe.
2 large heads of broccoli, separated into small florets
100ml extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 fresh mild chilli or ½ tsp crushed dried chilli flakes
400g dried orecchiette or fusilli pasta
100g grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 handfuls) (use hard Italian cheese if you’re vegetarian)
Salt and black pepper
Begin by dropping the broccoli florets into lots of well salted boiling water. Cook until nice and soft (in this case you don’t want al dente broccoli so it will need between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the size of your florets. Drain in a colander but reserve the cooking water to cook the pasta.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame. Once hot, add the sliced garlic and chilli and allow to sizzle. Once the garlic has turned golden, immediately add the broccoli to the pan, stirring it around. This will stop the garlic from cooking further and burning.
Using a wooden spoon, mash the broccoli up in the pan, turning it over in the garlicky chilli oil. Season well with salt and black pepper.
Meanwhile cook your pasta in the water used for the broccoli (according to the packet instructions). Once the pasta is ready, take a good couple of ladles of the cooking water out and reserve in a bowl. Drain the pasta and add it to the broccoli pan. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten and then thrown in the Parmesan cheese. Toss everything around. You want a moist sauce; the pasta water will emulsify with the olive oil and cheese which creates a delicious sauce to coat the pasta shapes.
Serve in bowls topped with more cheese and black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if you like.