You can use the same water for the vegetable as you do for the pasta. I cook the garlic in the ¼ cup oil listed here, but I usually add a teaspoon or 2 more oil per serving at the table, more for flavor than for moisture. If you like, garnish with grated Parmesan or toasted bread crumbs.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Total Time: 40 Minutes
- About 1 pound broccoli, cauliflower, or broccoli raab, trimmed
- and cut into pieces
- ¼ cup olive oil, or more as needed
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, or more to taste
- 1 pound penne, ziti, or other cut pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Boil the vegetable until it’s fairly tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the type (broccoli raab is fastest, cauliflower slowest) and the size of your pieces. Meanwhile, put the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When it’s hot, add the garlic and cook until it begins to sizzle, about a minute; remove from the heat until you are ready to add the vegetable.
- Scoop out the vegetable with a slotted spoon or strainer and transfer it to the skillet. Keep the water boiling. Return the skillet to medium-high heat; cook the vegetable, stirring and mashing, until it is hot and quite soft.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, and start tasting after 5 minutes. When the pasta is tender but not mushy, drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and a couple of tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to the vegetable; toss with a large spoon until well combined. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, along with more of the cooking water to keep the mixture from drying out. Serve immediately.
- PASTA WITH GREENS Here, if you have enough experience to predict doneness, you can cook the greens at the same time as the pasta: Usually you add them to the boiling water during the last minutes of cooking (if using chard, add the stems a few minutes before adding the leaves). But until you’re confident, follow the basic recipe, using about 1½ pounds spinach, kale, collard, chard, mustard, or other greens instead of broccoli. For kale and collards, cut away and discard the stems; for spinach, trim and discard any thick stems. For chard, cut the leaves from the stems and cut the stems into 1-inch pieces; for all the greens, chop the leaves. Cook the greens until tender and proceed with the recipe.
- PASTA WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH OR SWEET POTATO Very traditional, quite delicious; you can also purée the soft vegetables with flavorings, which almost always makes a fine sauce: Omit the broccoli. Grate a sweet potato or butternut squash and put it in a saucepan with some water, plus some oil or butter if you’d like. Cook until soft, drain if necessary, then toss it with the cooked pasta and maybe a little chopped sage or nutmeg, butter, and Parmesan.