Last summer I discovered the wonders of zucchini flowers, now I'm on the broccoli blossom bandwagon. In case you didn't know, and there's no reason you should, broccoli heads are actually tightly packed flower buds and most of us despair when they go to bloom. Well despair no more, harvest those buttery yellow blooms and use them to make a little dish I like to call.....
Broccoli Pasta Primavera, a la Rocco!
A couple of years ago now, my mate, Rocco, a real live Italian (from Verona, in the north), made me his mum's broccoli pasta for dinner. I have to admit, when he told me what he was making I was less than thrilled at the prospect of boiled broccoli with pasta. Broccoli is not one of my favourite vegetables (right up there with pumpkin and zucchini) and his version sounded seriously un-appetising. But I was his guest so I held my peace, held my breath, ate up politely and was delighted to discover that it was actually completely wonderful.
It's an incredibly simple, surprisingly delicious recipe. In need of an Italian lesson and with the school broccoli ready to pick, I decided to cook Rocco's recipe with my class. Unfortunately a warm day or two sent the broccoli into bloom as so the recipe was adapted to include a special secret ingredient. Broccoli flowers!
No doubt you're thinking that broccoli pasta a strange choice for a class of six and seven year olds but such was the faith I had in the delicious simplicity of Rocco's recipe. And it didn't let me down. Of course, cooking it at school lends a certain excitement factor but I know from experience, if they don't like it, they really won't eat it. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've heard 40 excited grade 1/2s delightedly shouting to each other at the top of their little lungs.. "Broccoli Pasta! Yum!"
Don't take my word for it, or theirs, here's the recipe, in English and Italian. Try it for yourself.
Broccoli Pasta Primavera, a la Rocco
broccoli, chopped up
pasta (Rocco recommends orrichette)
broccoli flowers (not essential but a great addition)
Boil some water with a pinch of salt, put the chopped broccoli in, wait till they're half to way to tender (~5min), then pour the pasta straight into the same boiling water.
Keep boiling pasta and broccoli till pasta is ready (and broccoli hopefully are just soft without having fallen apart).
Then get the water out (strain it) and add olive oil, parmesan and pepper and a generous sprinkling of broccoli flowers. Yum!
Bolli l'acqua per la pasta in una pentola. Taglia i broccoli a dadetti, mettili nell'acqua e lascia bolllire finche i broccoli incominciano a bollire.
Butta la pasta (preferibilmente orecchiette) nell'acqua bollente co0n i broccoli e lascia bollire finche la pasta ne' al dente e i broccoli appena teneri.
Scola aggiungi olio d'oliva generosamente, parmigiano, broccoli fiori e pepe. Delizioso!