Author Notes: Spaghetti and Broccoli is simple, delicious comfort food and a family favorite that has been handed down from one generation to the next. Growing up I had it often, and it always, always, was served as a side on special occasions. Originally adapted from my Grandma Angelo, who made her pasta cheesy and mild, as did my mother - I like it tweaked it up with lemon zest and a lot of red hot pepper flakes.
A fitting tribute was paid to my Grandmother after her funeral service; several large Spaghetti & Broccoli Italian pasta bowls were served…and it definitely made our party a true Celebration of her Life!
Serves a crowd
- 1 lb. dry spaghetti (I prefer De Cecco)
- 1 lb. broccoli flowers and stems (I use 1 bag of frozen when broccoli is no longer garden fresh)
- 6-8 large garlic cloves, 1/2 of them minced, 1/2 sliced
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1-2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes - to your taste
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil…divided in half
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt…plus extra for the boiling pasta water
- 1/4 cup pasta water...divided in half
- 1 cup micro-plane grated Pecorino/Parmesan mix - divided in half.
- Extra cheese for individual plates after serving.
- In a small bowl, add the minced garlic, lemon zest and red pepper flakes; whisk and reserve for later.
- Place a large heatproof serving dish or bowl in the oven, heated @ 200 degrees. Note: I sometimes use a large saute pan.
- Start a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the spaghetti noodles half way. Add the broccoli. Finish cooking until pasta is al dente and broccoli is tender. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water - divide in half.
- Meanwhile, in a nonstick pan, heat the first 3 tablespoons of olive oil; add onion and saute until soft.
- Add the sliced garlic and 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, stir until the garlic is pale yellow colored.
- Take pan off the heat. Stir in the reserved minced garlic/lemon zest/red pepper flakes and add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. Reserve until needed in step #8.
- Drain the spaghetti/broccoli and transfer to the warmed serving bowl or dish. Add the last 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining pasta water - toss to coat.
- Now add the reserved onion/garlic, olive oil mixture (from step #6) and the first half of grated cheese, toss to combine.
- Sprinkle with the last half of the grated cheese and serve.
- Or at this point you can cover with foil and let sit in oven for up to a half hour - the pasta and broccoli will be cooked a bit more…but personally, I like it that way.