Had I typed up this post on Monday as intended, it would have been full of rants and whines. “How come cars don’t always turn on when we need them to?” I would have asked. “Why do little brothers have to make big mistakes, and will that giant pile of dirty laundry just wash itself already?!”
While we’re playing this game, why can’t I live in a world where days expand to fit workloads, and first dates are better than awkward? Rant, rant, rant.
Fortunately, I got all of that out of my system in conversations with friends and family. What I am left with is a deep sense of gratitude. I’m so lucky to have good friends that I can always call on for help (as much as I don’t want to ask). I’m also thankful for parents who empathize rather than chastise.
If you must know, here’s what happened: I might have (maybe) ignored my low gas warning light (for a little too long) and run out of gas without knowing it… so when I went to move my car, it wouldn’t budge from its rather unfortunate parking spot. My car got towed while I was on the phone with AAA. May Monday go down in history as the day I spent $200 on a tank of gas.
I also owe a big thank you to you, dear readers. Thank you for coming to my little corner of the web. Your visits and comments never go unappreciated and I am perpetually astonished that you cook this dummy’s recipes. Your encouraging words are all the motivation I need to keep on blogging. Furthermore, your visits and those not-so-cute ads in the sidebar helped me pay for that unexpected expense out of pocket. It’s not much, but making money doing what I love to do is a gift. So thanks for bailing me out, friends! Your support means the world to me.
Now that the car fiasco is behind us, let’s talk about this recipe. It called my name the first time I flipped through Susie Middleton’s The Fresh & Green Table. The words “spicy” and “garlicky” caught my attention, but what really captured it is the cooking method. She quickly infuses olive oil with red pepper flakes and garlic, reserving it to toss with crisp, cooked broccoli at the end. It’s also rather creamy without being loaded with heavy cream since goat cheese melts into a rich sauce when mixed with warm pasta and leftover cooking water. Genius, right?
- 1/2 pound dried whole wheat bow-tie or spiral-shaped pasta
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (around 5 garlic cloves)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 pound broccoli (about 4 medium, tightly packed florets), chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 to 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled while still cold (around 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Parmesan)
- 15 pitted kalamata olives, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 small lemon, juiced
- optional add-ins: 2 cups or 1 can cooked chickpeas, drained, and/or a couple handfuls of baby arugula (great with leftovers)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place a colander in the sink with a glass liquid measuring cup or heat-safe bowl next to it. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, as directed on the package instructions. Remove the pot from heat and ladle/pour about 1 cup of the pasta water in the glass measuring cup. Drain the pasta in the colander and let it rest, covered loosely with a pot lid or plate.
- Place a small, heat-safe bowl near the stove. In a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic begins to simmer. Cook for about 30 seconds more to infuse the oil with spicy, garlicky flavor, but do not let the garlic brown. Pour and scrape the seasoned oil into the heatproof bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan with a clean kitchen rag or paper towel.
- Return the pan to the stove. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium-low until shimmering. Add the broccoli and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli has shrunk to a single layer in the pan and turned bright green, and most have some browning on them (about ten minutes). Don’t quit cooking prematurely here; you want the broccoli to be nice and toasty.
- Get out the pan’s lid or a cookie sheet and keep it handy. Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the pan. Measure out 1/3 cup pasta water (keep the rest for later) and pour it into the pan. Cover the pan with your lid or cookie sheet and continue cooking until the water has simmered down to almost nothing, about 15 to 30 seconds. Uncover and remove the pan from heat.
- Add the drained pasta to the pan and drizzle in all of the infused oil. Give it a stir, then add the goat cheese and most of the Parmigiano. Stir until everything is well distributed. Add another 1 to 2 tablespoons pasta water, the chopped olives and lemon juice, and stir until the goat cheese loosens up and gets creamier. Season to taste with salt and add a tablespoon more pasta water or additional goat cheese if you’d like it to be more creamy. If it seems dry at all, add a little splash of olive oil and mix well. Mix in the chickpeas and/or arugula, if using.
- Serve right away, garnished with the remaining Parmigiano.
- Adapted from The Fresh & Green Table by Susie Middleton.
- This pasta keeps well in the fridge for a few days. I treated leftovers like pasta salad, serving them cold with arugula and an extra squeeze of lemon juice.