Broccoli pasta (capers, anchovies and garlic)

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We just call this broccoli pasta. If I called it by it’s actual sauce ingredients – capers, anchovies and garlic – then they would probably go “urrrrgh”. Because, you know, kids don’t normally dig on anchovies or capers. They do like garlic though. But in this dish they are just a background saltiness, a punchy dressing for the fairly plain greens and pasta.

This is a regular go-to in our house, has been for years. There are so many varieties on the theme. Use purple sprouting broccoli when in season. Add chilli flakes for grown ups or older kids. Swap broccoli for asparagus, cauliflower, or kale, even. Chop some olives and pop them in too. It’s about creating a pungent, flavourful base sauce to toss the pasta into. Anything along those lines will work.

The main ace thing about this teatime saviour is that the broccoli cooks along with the pasta, so then you just drain it, after you have reserved a little starchy cooking water, and chuck it into the mini sauce you’ve created. Put a load of parmesan on, and hey presto – a dinner that is sufficiently sophisticated for grown ups and perfectly viable for kids too. Mine really enjoy this – even Arthur can be persuaded to have a little broccoli.

Again, I used brown rice pasta – Doves Farm is the brand – and it is brilliant; you cant tell the difference between this and normal pasta. And the kids (and grown ups) are unwittingly getting a bigger nutritious hit.

Did I mention you can make it in 10 minutes – excluding pasta water heating time?

Serves: 3-4
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 7 minutes
Total time: under 10 minutes

Ingredients: 
250g pasta
1 head of broccoli
1 tin of anchovies, along with the oil
1 large tablespoon of capers, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
About 100g Parmesan, grated
Squeeze half a lemon (you may not want to use it all, just a little)
Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Put a large pan of water on to boil and add a little salt.
  2. Chop stalks into fine strips, the chunky florets into slim florets. You want about the width of a slim asparagus spear – or a child’s finger!
  3. When boiling rapidly, add pasta. I add the broccoli soon after, as I like soft broc. So then it breaks down into the sauce and the kids eat more!
  4. At same time as water is heating up, heat a frying pan. Tip in anchovies, oil as well. They will melt into the sauce, no need to chop.
  5. Toss in capers, garlic too. Let this bubble and all the ingredients come together a bit.
  6. Test the pasta – you always want to eat brown rice pasta al dente – once it gets overcooked, it goes really over soft. Reserve a splash of cooking water in a mug. Drain the pasta and broccoli.
  7. Tip pasta and broccoli into frying pan and add most of the Parmesan. Season with pepper (no salt though as anchovies are really salty, obviously). Toss well, adding a small splash of pasta water, a small squeeze of lemon, and a liberal drizzle of extra virgin too.
  8. Serve with more Parmesan on top.
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