Pasta with garlic and oil is one of the most basic pasta dishes, which I imagine most people can make without even consulting a recipe. Because it is so simple, it lends itself well to variations. This is one of my favorites.
Although I make pasta about once a week, I do not like the time and energy it takes to boil all that water. Usually, I try to make that pot of water do as much as work as possible. I like this recipe because it uses the big pot of boiling water for double duty: to cook both the broccoli and the pasta.
Another reason I like this recipe is because I usually have all the ingredients on hand, so it serves as a quick but healthy meal when the pantry is empty. And it’s a vegetarian offering that’s also really satisfying.
Pasta with Broccoli & Mozzarella
Yields: 2-3 servings, depending on appetite
Time to make: ~30 minutes
- 1 bunch broccoli, florets cut off, stems peeled and chopped
- ½ lb. chunky pasta, such as penne or rotini
- 2 lg. garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 oz. mozzarella, cubed
- salt and red pepper flakes to taste
- grated Parmesan for garnish
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rapid boil. Add the broccoli stems and cook about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and cook 2 minutes more, until they are bright green and tender. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool a bit. When it’s cool enough, chop the broccoli roughly.
Start cooking the pasta in the same pot as you cooked the broccoli.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it turns golden. Add the broccoli and mozzarella cubes, plus salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir to combine and melt the cheese a bit. Remove from the heat.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving about ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the broccoli mixture and stir to combine well, adding the pasta cooking water as needed to help the sauce and pasta cohere (you may not need all of the reserved water). Garnish with Parmesan to serve.