It's high summer in Montreal and the broccoli is showing up in large firm heads from local producers, in abundance.
Dinner calls and this time, you can make a thoroughly rich and satisfying dinner with just broccoli, roasted garlic, some spaghetti and a little parmesan cheese. The garlic sweetens with roasting and gives the whole dish an almost meaty richness.
It's an Italian basic, and one I learned from a London friend (with her fabulous, handsome, Italian, then- husband Sylvio) who held these languid all day "Sunday Lunches" in her backyard.
We began with glasses of chilled amber Dubonnet, and finished with several rounds of Bocci ball. That is, for those who could still stand up.
Jane's Broccoli Garlic Spaghetti
1 box of spaghetti
1 full head broccoli (ends trimmed and florets on long stems seperated)
1 - 2 heads garlic
S & P
1/2 -1 cup grated parmagianno cheese
1/2 cup slightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
Prepare garlic by slicing about 1/4 inch off the top of the heads. Place on a square piece of tin foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper. Fold up and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 45 min. It will be golden, sweet.
Put large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. As it comes to a boil, add salt, and immerse the broccoli pieces in it for about 30 seconds to blanche. Remove broccoli. Add pasta and cook following directions on the box. For best results I like Barilla and DeCecco brands.
Drain spaghetti, reserving about a cup of the pasta water for the sauce.
In the same pot add a couple of tablesp0ons (or more to your taste) of good olive oil. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves out of their sheathes and into pot. Add broccoli and toss for a couple of minutes. If you like it saucier, add some pasta water but Jane liked hers dry and it was delicious.
Add some cheese and the pine nuts if you choose. Give a little toss and serve up in a big pasta bowl for folks to help themselves. Pass extra cheese separately.
Makes a great main dish meal served with a little salad of some kind on the side. no meat required. You can also do this without the pasta and use the broccoli as a side dish when making a delicious roast of meat. You can also substitute rapini for the broccoli for a little bitter contrast to the rich sweet garlic.