20 (Mon) April 2020
Spaghetti ai Broccoletti
-Dasmariñas Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines-
with the Family
Although I’ve owned the classic Italian cookbook The Silver Spoon for many years, and though I cook Italian food regularly, I don’t recall ever using the one to do the other.
Of 39 recipes for dried pasta in The Silver Spoon, spaghetti is featured the most with 11 (+1 for spaghettini) (penne has 9). The name of the pasta means “small strings/ropes.” According to the companion cookbook The Silver Spoon – Pasta, which I also own but also never used, which includes 53 spaghetti recipes, spaghetti “is Italy’s favorite dish.” Whereas Italians are very particular about the sauces that go with a specific type of a pasta, and The Silver Spoon is widely accepted as a definitive resource, the 11 recipes would seem to represent the fundamental ways to make Italian-style spaghetti.
Project Cook Every Silver Spoon Spaghetti (CESSS). To level up my skills in La Cucina Italiana, I will try the 11 recipes for spaghetti as featured in the seminal Italian cookbook The Silver Spoon (see The Silver Spoon).
Spaghetti ai Broccoletti (spaghetti with broccoli) is the 1st in the series, simply because I happened to have broccoli and cream on hand.
The recipe calls for 500 grams of frozen broccoli, typically comprising only florets, but I had just one 450-gram head of fresh broccoli, including the stalks, so the color and flavor likely turned out milder than it should be.
In any case, the dish turned out great. Generally not a fan of cream sauces, which I find to be a bit heavy and dull, but I appreciated how the broccoli made for a lighter and more elegant taste and texture.
Hands down, my favorite dry pasta is the specialty Academia line from the Italian producer Barilla. Going back to basics, the pasta is cut on traditional bronze molds, which are coarser than modern Teflon molds, resulting in a rough outer texture that both provides a more organic mouthfeel and absorbs more sauce when cooked. It’s the only brand of dry pasta that I’ve ever noticed makes an immediate and distinct difference in every bite.
On the rare occasion that I post a recipe on GMTD, I am confident that it will work consistently, having tested and tweaked it over the course of several trials.
For the first time in GMTD history, I am posting a recipe after a single try, already with a few personal modifications.
- 500 grams of broccoli
- 1 medium onion
- 3 TB of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TB of butter
- 6 TB of heavy cream
- 400 grams of spaghetti
- 50 grams of Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
1. If using fresh broccoli, cut the broccoli into small pieces.
2. In a small pot, bring water to the boil, cook the broccoli for 5 minutes, drain.
3. Chop the onion.
4. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion and broccoli, sauté for 5 minutes until the vegetables just begin to caramelize.
5. Lower the heat, add the cream, mix well, simmer gently for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender; add some cream (or milk) if too dry.
6. Turn off the heat, allow to cool down.
7. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a generous handful of salt, and cook the spaghetti until al dente, according to the package instructions; before draining, reserve a cup of the cooking water.
8. Transfer the onion and broccoli to a food processor and and blend until smooth; add some pasta cooking water to achieve a looser consistency if too chunky.
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste (TIP: in addition to personal preference, the amount of salt required will depend on whether salted butter was used, whether salted pasta cooking water was added; season conservatively to start, and readjust after the pasta and cheese are added, which will both be salty themselves).
8. Drain the pasta and immediately mix with the sauce while the surface of the pasta is still moist and bubbling hot.
9. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (TIP: if the cheese is not freshly grated, then don’t bother).