Pasta cui Vruccoli Ariminata proves pasta doesn’t have to be covered in butter or cream to be packed with flavor.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Pasta cui Vruccoli Ariminata, or Pasta & Broccoli
Pasta cui Vruccoli Ariminata, or Pasta & Broccoli of course! This dish is prepared with any kind of broccoli you prefer to use from a head of Romanesco to broccoli rabe. Not only does the broccoli make the finished dish look entirely beautiful, but also adds LOADS of healthy carbohydrates.
The flavor in this dish is “built” while making the sauce. All of the classic Italian ingredients for the most impactful flavors are in this one folks! Onion, garlic, wine, tomato, anchovy, and perhaps a bit unexpected, golden raisins! No one ingredient stands out, rather they all work together as one.
I am not the humble anchovy’s biggest fan, but to leave it out of this dish creates an imbalance that cannot be achieved with any other ingredient on the planet. Use anchovy paste if the thought of mincing little fish weirds you out…
Pasta cui Vruccoli Ariminata is translated simply to pasta with broccoli. If you were somebody who only heard the ‘pasta’ and the ‘broccoli’ part, you might well skip over this dish. I am here to sway you for just a moment.
Consider warm penne pasta bathed in a complex sauce of tomato, garlic, onion, white wine, Pecorino cheese, anchovy, golden raisins, pine nuts, and of course, broccoli. I promise, all the authentic flavors of Italy, and yes, it’s all in this dish.
Are you going to taste the anchovy and the raisins? No. They melt into the bigger picture of this dish and that is the sauce. It comes together surprisingly fast, too. So, if you were planning a pasta dinner and are also looking for something relatively clean and healthy, look no further than this meal.
Cooking it is uncomplicated, eating it is heartening, and this incredibly flavorful recipe is as easy as Italian weeknight food gets.
Do You Have What’s Needed To Make Pasta & Broccoli? Check The List!
broccoli, any variety but should be young and tender
anchovy fillets or paste
dry white wine
fresh basil leaves
whole wheat mezze penne pasta
Pecorino Romano cheese
How This Recipe Came About…
This Sicilian recipe is considered lovely, delicious, and simple at the same time. It was a staple in my neighbor’s home growing up.
The part I remember (I have no idea why this stands out) is a whole big bunch of thinly sliced onion sautéing in olive oil. It always smelled sweet and altogether irresistible.
But then, in went a bowl of bloated, soaked raisins. The screeching hot pan would sizzle and pop and the steam from the sweet and savory mixture essentially melded together.
What I was watching all those decades ago, was how an old Italian woman was taught to cook this dish. What I was watching was a true sauce being built, the ingredients not making much sense but the finished product tasting NOTHING like what I knew as spaghetti sauce.
This, this was art. The art of food. She barely spoke English. She was my friend’s grandmother who came to the United States as a young woman in 1922.
The truth? She knew this ingredient list like the back of her hand and despite the language barrier, whenever I was invited to stay for supper, this lady always knew my thoughts. My face and my request for seconds gave me away.
What I was watching all those decades ago, was how an old Italian woman was taught to cook this dish.
Sicilian recipes are not something I have a lot of. Much of what I remember my friend’s grandmother making involved fish and shellfish. My family was not a big ‘fish family.’ Except for shrimp, scallops, and the occasional flounder filet, we did not cook or eat much fish.
We did not each much Italian food either. Past spaghetti, my Mom knew no dishes or recipes and never seemed inclined to learn. It’s funny to me that I should now be a food blogger. Furthering that fact, a food eater who not only loves fish and shellfish, but LOTS of Italian dishes, especially recipes from Northern Italy and the French border region.
Oh, and I have three Sicilian dishes that I do VERY, VERY WELL. Pasta anciova with Cudduruni, Sea Caponata, and Gabanadina over sfinciuni are basic Sicilian dishes inspired by the fish caught from the Aeolian islands located just off the tip of Italy’s boot.
The dishes are earthy, whole, produced with the foods produced or found locally, and altogether healthy. This recipe was one I had to read through several times. Why? Well, I wasn’t sure I was reading it correctly, in that I was absolutely processing the pasta and broccoli my neighbor’s grandmother made all those years ago. But to find it here, now? And this was not linguine with broccoli, this was penne with broccoli rabe.
How To Make Pasta With Broccoli?
The basis of this recipe comes from our friends at Eatingwell Magazine. I have adapted it some to meet my family’s needs, but by in large, this is their recipe and method for Pasta cui Vruccoli Ariminata, or ‘Lina’s Pasta & Broccoli.’
I am unclear as to who Lina is, but I like her style and I REALLY LIKE HER PASTA! The sauce is a tomato base, but it is soooo much more than tomato sauce.
Don’t overcook the broccoli rabe. Boil for no more than one minute, then plunge into an ice bath to preserve the beautiful, bright green color, as well as the crunch. It will heat and cook in the sauce momentarily and be PERFECT at the moment you plate up.
There is no real prep that gets done ahead except for picking through the broccoli rabe to find the most beautiful flowers and youngest, tenderest leaves. I use a mandoline to slice the sweet onion.
The first time I ran through this recipe, it took me about 45 minutes. Since then, I have managed to get my time from cooktop to dinner table to 25 minutes.
This sauce is “built.” Layer after layer of subtle, sweet, and savory ultimately become a fragrant and pleasing aroma, appealing to even the pickiest of eaters.
The complexity of the sauce is its genius. Obscure ingredients meld and are deserved of the “what exactly is this that I’m tasting?” query that arises when you serve wholesome and honest foods to guests. And I know this because I was that guest!
Once my pan is hot, the sauce builds quickly, but the key is to keep the pan hot over medium high heat and stirring occasionally enough to avoid anything burning. I reserve about a cup of the cooking water from the pasta just in case I need to thin the sauce enough to be able to give the finished pasta dish a good toss.
Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…
I know I am always professing tailoring recipes to meet you and your family’s needs, but this dish is hard to improve upon. Trust me, it’s already damn near perfect.
I would say that if you had a particular type of broccoli you preferred…Romanesco, rabe, broccolini, or florets…that’d give you some flexibility.
Also, I have used to applause Kalamata olives in this dish. Use about a half cup, finely minced. So, there’s that.
I would encourage NOT LEAVING ANY ONE INGREDIENT SPECIFIED IN THE RECIPE CARD OUT – if you’ve read through and do not like something, I’m going to say this recipe probably is not for you.
I can say this assuredly because I know what role each ingredient plays. To leave one out is to lose the star quarterback on the winning team…
What To Serve With Pasta With Broccoli?
If you wanted to be more formal, consider Beet Napoleons as a starter in lieu of a traditional tossed salad.
Also, for a twist on bread, assemble pizza dough atop a baking sheet lined with parchment, then
- Chop some garlic and sweet basil and mix with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut varying strips and imperfect lengths of the dough but do not separate.
- Brush the dough with the olive oil and garlic mixture and bake.
- During the last minute of the bake, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the dough.
- Remove the hot dough from the oven and pull the strips apart.
- Arrange in a pretty serving basket on the table.
What To Drink With Pasta With Broccoli?
A dry oaky and smoky Cabernet compliments this dish beautifully. Or enjoy this with a well-chilled, semi-sparkling Moscato. Moscato is known more as a dessert wine. Moscato razzle-dazzles the sweet and salty pasta sauce in this dish like no other.
If considering a beer, then a pale ale or lager such as Huger Street India Pale Ale, Stella Artois, or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, again very well-chilled, go quite nicely.
Can Pasta With Broccoli Be Served As An Appetizer?
YES! YES! By all means YES! Appetizer portion sizes are much smaller than main dish portion sizes. This pasta recipe goes A LONG WAY if serving to a crowd as an appetizer OR as a side dish to a larger main.
Can Pasta With Broccoli Be Made Ahead?
To make the sauce in advance, scrape into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When reheating, use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the boiling pasta water to thin it out on the stovetop over medium low heat.
To make the pasta ahead, toss in a tablespoon or so of olive oil to prevent sticking, and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
If You Like This Recipe…
…you might also like:
- Creamy Chicken Alfredo Casserole
- Hearty Beef & Sausage Ragù
- Sour Cream Noodle Bake
- Creamy Tomato and Sausage Penne
Creamy Tomato and Sausage Penne
Want a bigger or smaller serving size? Hover over the serving size and move the bar until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
- large skillet
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Ingredients for Pasta cui Vruccoli Ariminata, or Pasta with Broccoli
- 1/2 pound broccoli rabe only flowers and tender leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt + 1/8 teaspoon, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large onion sweet such as Vidalia, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and slightly smashed but in tact more or less
- 4 anchovy filets minced; can substitute anchovy paste in equal measure
- 1/2 cup white wine dry
- 1 tablespoon basil fresh, leaves torn
- ** 1/4 teaspoon cayenne ** I recommend beginning with 1/4 teaspoon and tasting before adding additional
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce can be homemade or canned, but should be very basic
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins soaked for 1 hour in boiling water
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon pepper to taste
- 8 ounces whole wheat mezze penne
- 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
- Fill a medium size bowl with ice water.
- Fill a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Trim the broccoli rabe harvesting the flowers/florets and the young, tender leaves.
- Boil the broccoli rable for 1 minute. Using a spider, remove the flowers and leaves from the boiling water and plunge directly into the ice bath. Drain and set aside. Return the broccoli-cooking water to a boil and add the mezze penne. Cook according to package directions.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add anchovies or anchovy paste and the drained and soaked raisins and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash the raisins slightly. Add the white wine, torn basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should appear slightly soupy. Thin with a little of the pasta-cooking water, if necessary.
- Add the cooked penne to the sauce along with the broccoli and the pine nuts. Remove the garlic clove if you like. I leave it in. Season the sauce with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper and taste for the need for additional cayenne.
- Serve immediately topped with freshly grated Pecorino cheese.
Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
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