To say I ate well on my honeymoon in Italy would be an understatement. The flavors, smells and sights of the country where my ancestors came from will always be ingrained in my memory. Every meal had one thing in common, simplicity, both with the ingredients and technique. This pasta dish exemplifies that in the roasting of the fresh broccoli, which caramelizes the vegetables natural sugars, adding another dimension of flavor. The slightly sweet crispy brown bits of broccoli, the salty sharpness of the cheese and the heat of the pepper all come together with the help from some good extra virgin olive oil. Buon appetito!
3 SMALL HEADS OF BROCCOLI, CUT INTO FLORETS AND STEMS SLICED
6 GARLIC CLOVES, PEELED AND SMASHED
1 1/2 LBS PENNE, YOU CAN SUBSTITUTE WHOLE WHEAT PASTA
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Preheat oven to 450*
Toss broccoli in a bowl with some olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper. Spread the florets out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until just tender and edges have started to brown.
As the broccoli roasts, heat a few big "glugs" of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, being careful not to burn. When the garlic is a golden brown remove and add as much chili flakes to the pan as you desire.
While broccoli is roasting and the garlic is browning , cook the pasta for 1 -2 minutes less than what the package says in salted water. Al dente is best!
When the pasta is done, drain, while reserving the pasta water in the pot. Add the pasta to the pan with olive oil and chili flakes, toss in the broccoli and a couple spoonfuls of pasta water. Stir and continue to cook over medium heat for a minute or two until pasta is cooked to al dente. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle in some parmesan cheese and a couple swirls of olive oil. The parmesan cheese and pasta water will combine, creating a light sauce that will coat the pasta. Serve with extra chili flakes for those who like the heat!