Pasta with Broccoli and Pancetta

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It is interesting how you can vary even the simplest of Italian recipes. I make pasta with broccoli often, and I often make it like I described in this post with anchovies, garlic, and chilli. I cook the broccoli and the pasta together and toss them in olive oil in which I stirred the anchovies, garlic, and chilli. Then I saw a post by CampariGirl, in which she blanches the broccoli in the same pot as the pasta (but not at the same time as the pasta), and then sautées the broccoli with olive oil, garlic, and chilli. I liked the idea of sautéing the broccoli, as it adds flavor. She also mentioned adding bacon instead of anchovies, which I liked as well. And so a new variation on pasta with broccoli was born, and we loved it! Claudia, ti ringrazio di cuore per l’ispirazione!

I own a steaming basket that fits atop the pot in which I usually cook short pasta. And so I decided to steam the broccoli on top of the boiling pasta. This has multiple advantages: steamed broccoli is more flavorful than boiled broccoli, it saves some time, and there is no need to fish the broccoli out of the pot with a strainer.

This is a tasty, nutritious, quick and easy dish that is perfect for a week night. It took me about 20 minutes to make it, including taking the photographs. Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

1 large broccoli, about 500 grams (1.1 lbs)

100 grams (3.5 oz) pancetta, diced

150 grams (.33 lb) short pasta, such as penne

1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated pecorino (or parmigiano)

Instructions

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Bring a pot of water to a boil while you clean the broccoli.

From the broccoli you shouldn’t only use the florets (which you can cut into halves or quarters to get them into a nice size), but also the trunk. Trim the bottom and peel the tough skin.

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Cut the trunk in half lengthwise and then into slices.

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Put the broccoli into a steaming basket.

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When the water boils, add salt and the pasta. Set your timer for the time indicated on the package for al dente.

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Put the steaming basket with the broccoli on top of the pasta and cover. Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes.

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In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the diced pancetta and the garlic cloves.

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Stir over medium heat until the pancetta is cooked to your liking. I like it golden and slightly crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside.

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When the broccoli has steamed for 5 minutes…

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…add it to the pancetta.

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Stir for a couple of minutes until the broccoli starts to color. Turn off the heat.

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Drain the pasta when the timer beeps, reserving a bit of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the broccoli and pancetta, together with a generous amount of freshly grated pecorino and a bit of the cooking water. Don’t add too much at once, you can always add more later (about 2 tablespoons is a good start).

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Toss to mix, adding more pasta cooking water if needed to get a creamy result. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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As a finishing touch, add a drizzle of the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford.

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Serve at once on preheated plates.

Flashback

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You can make gnocchi from just about anything. These jerusalem artichoke gnocchi (or sunchoke gnocchi) turned out wonderful.

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13 thoughts on “Pasta with Broccoli and Pancetta

  1. That looks so nice – I love pasta, almost always order it when I go out (although I’ve been trying to branch out to pizza recently.) I’ve actually just started a food blog, just writing wee things about dining out in places in Glasgow. Things have been tough for me over the last few years but food is something that has always brought me comfort (not necessarily a good thing hahaha). Would love it if you were interested and wanted to have a look or give me a follow, it would mean a lot.

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  2. Contenta di essere stata di ispirazione! While I was looking at your top photo, cannellini beans popped into my mind. I think they marry well with the broccoli and pancetta – and extra source of broccoli. I will experiment next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Since I use at least one of my multitude of steamers almost every day – this great offering is right up my alley!! Don’t know about Holland but here almost every ‘cooking pot’ set IS sold with a steamer: basta !!!! Oh, the increased flavours when water does not touch a vegetable and/or meat!! I actually get very good results having dry-rubbed proteins and then steamed them – milder but, oh so good 🙂 !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s how I make pasta with broccoli in our house. Adding pancetta to it is the only way Stefano would eat it without complaints! Sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with a child! 😉
    Anyway, I think it’s a nice way to spice the dish up and to take it to the next level!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to make this often when I lived in Los Angeles with broccoli rabe but cannot find any here in France. Will have to resort to using regular broccoli which my hubby does not care for too much. I used roast cauliflower last time and hazelnuts. Was very good too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m with you, Stefan. I often include broccoli — or its cousins broccolini or rapini — with my pasta. Love that drizzle of olive oil before serving. It really adds to the dish. Mom often blanched rapini before sautéing it in garlic-flavored oil. It was her way of lessening its bitterness for us kids. Now, as an adult, I love bitter greens of all stripes and rarely, if ever, blanche rapini.

    Liked by 1 person

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