This is an easy dish that satisfies my cravings for mac and cheese with very little cheese. In fact, the dish is great made without cheese, so it could also be vegan. The sauce can be made with fresh or frozen broccoli, often I use frozen for convenience. It would also be great with leftover roasted broccoli. The recipe is also very easy to make in a larger/smaller quantity. —chilmarkgal
pasta, whole wheat or regular
large head broccoli, cut into florets, or 1 bag frozen broccoli
Bring water to boil in large pot. While water is coming up to a boil, steam broccoli until tender in another pot or in microwave. Once water comes up to boil, salt generously and add pasta (note- be sure to reserve 1 to 2 cups of pasta water when draining pasta to add to sauce).
While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes to a skillet and cook over medium-high heat, until oil is hot. Add broccoli and saute until brown in some spots, about 5-10 minutes.
Spoon contents of skillet into blender, add in lemon juice and some of the reserved pasta water, blend, and continue to add pasta water until sauce is smooth and creamy. The sauce should be well-blended, not chunky. Add parmesan cheese to blender and blend, just to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjust as necessary.
Toss pasta with sauce until well-coated. At this point you could serve the pasta as is with extra parmesan for sprinkling on top, or you could put the pasta into a baking dish and top with parmesan cheese (or other kind of cheese), and broil for a few minutes to get a brown crust on top.