A cold snap in Rome has given the broccoli frostbite, but it’s still perfect for the pot. Tossed into some pasta and sausage meat, it makes a savoury bowlful certain to please
I have written about pasta e broccoli before, and it remains one of my most trusted and dependable dishes – (almost) everyone likes it. Today’s recipe is a variation, one that would have pleased my one-time flatmate, whose answer to every savoury culinary dilemma was “put a sausage and a glass of wine in it”. He took this to an extreme, but it is actually a good bit of advice – many stews, ragus, sauces and people benefit from a crumbled sausage and glass of wine.
For pasta, broccoli and sausages, it is important you cook the broccoli until tender – possibly overcooked by some people’s standards – the reason being that you want it to transform from bouncy and resistant to tender and silky, the buds soft enough to collapse into the oil and create a sort of sauce. The food writer Laurie Colwin’s advice is appropriate here, the broccoli “should give, not fight back”.
Having boiled the broccoli and lifted it from the pan with a slotted spoon – keeping the green-tinted water for the pasta – you fry some garlic and chilli gently in lots of extra virgin olive oil. Alternatively, you could use guanciale
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add salt, stir and then add the broccoli and cook until tender. Lift the florets from the water and set aside. Keep the cooking water for the pasta.
In a large frying pan, warm the olive oil or guanciale over a medium-low flame and gently fry the chilli and garlic – peeled and crushed for a mild flavour, chopped for stronger flavour – until fragrant. At this point, you can discard the garlic if you want.
Crumble the sausage meat into the pan and stir until the meat is brown all over. Add the wine, raise the heat and let the pan bubble for few minutes until the wine has evaporated away. Add the cooked broccoli and stir.
Meanwhile, bring the water back to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Using a slotted spoon, lift the cooked pasta, and the residual water that clings to it, into the frying pan. Add the cheese and stir again then serve, passing round more grated cheese for those who want it.