This dish proves pasta doesn’t have to be covered in butter or cream to be packed with flavor.
This Sicilian recipe is considered lovely, delicious, and simple at the same time.
This is an easy one-pot dish. Cook it all in a large skillet and you’ll have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. I also like to serve right out of the skillet to add to the simplicity of this dish.
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.
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. I opt for anchovy paste in this dish.
This dish 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 do 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.
A SET OF DEDICATED PASTA BOWLS IS CRUCIAL TO GETTING YOUR TWIRL DOWN PAT. MANY COLORS, MANY PATTERNS, BUT THE BEST ONES ARE SHALLOW AND WIDE...AND THEY HOLD A LOTTA PASTA! THE WHITE BOWLS IN THE CENTER ARE THE ONES I HAVE BEEN GUSHING OVER, AND THAT ARE IN PRACTICALLY EVERY PHOTO OF LATE. KITCHEN NECESSARIES, CLICK IMAGES FOR PRICING.
LOVE PASTA? NEED SOME WEEKNIGHT DELICIOUS INSPIRATION?
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.
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How To Make Pasta cui Vruccoli Ariminata, or 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.
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! And I watched as those hot-soaked and plump raisins hit a hot pan with sweet onion, anchovy, and white wine. Again, the complexity of the sauce is its genius.
Don’t overcook the broccoli rabe. It gets no more than one minute in boiling water and is then plunged 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.
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. 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 and it takes under a minute literally.
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.
Should you try this recipe, please do come back and rate it. I really appreciate the rating and Google analytics thanks you, too! Also, I would love to know what you are serving this pasta dish with. There is so much packed in here, that I opt for nothing more than crusty bread and oil, but I always like to know if a salad or soup stands up.
If anchovy fillets aren't your favorite ingredient to work with, consider anchovy paste. I work with this in lots of recipes to get that umami flavor I'm always looking for. Delicious in so many dishes, NOT fishy...click images for pricing.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
- large skillet
Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 4 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
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.