Beware the broccoli comfort zone. At first, the “BCZ” can seem like a great place. Choices seem plentiful—you can eat broccoli roasted, sautéed, blanched, raw. Take note: Repeated exposure to only the florets of broccoli can lead to listlessness and apathy. Escape the clutches! Regain your moxie! Here is how:
Broil the florets and turn them into pesto.
Cook the stems. (They are arguably the best part of broccoli.) After removing their fibrous outsides, they can be sliced and eaten raw or sautéed; cooked, they have a sweetness to them and a texture similar to artichoke hearts.
Now combine these two ideas. Cook your favorite tube-shaped pasta (I like mezzi rigatoni), and toss it with the broccoli pesto. Fold in the cooked broccoli stems and grated smoked mozzarella cheese, then transfer everything to a casserole dish. Top with more smoked mozzarella, because why wouldn't you? Cook it until it is bubbling and beautiful.
If you’re hunkered down in a cold part of the country, this dish will keep you warm and happy for a few days. If you’re somewhere along the California coast and you’re sick of hearing about winter, deal with it (and serve this at room temperature—it makes an epic pasta salad).
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I'm perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer's market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta.