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Authentic Sicilian Pasta With Broccoli

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Text-only version printed fromhttp://FXcuisine.com/default.asp?Display=75
This traditional Sicilian recipe brings together North African and Italian culinary traditions. A cult dish!

In 'Il ladro di merendine', a popular Sicilian novel, police captain Montalbano receives a phone call at home in the evening and answers 'Montalbano speaking. I am eating broccoli pasta, who the hell is disturbing me!'. There are many ways of eating pasta with broccoli, but few can elicit such intense reactions as this one. like for Arancini, Sicilian gastronomy plays a central role in this book by Italy's most popular living author Andrea Camilleri.


Pasta with broccoli
A traditional Palermo recipe
500 gr italian maccheroni
1000 gr broccoli
40 gr raisins
40 gr pine nuts
2 anchovy fillets preserved in salted oil
1 pinch of saffron
1 large onion
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
oil, salt and pepper

I make my maccheroni from scratch - it only takes about 20 minutes - but you can use any bronze-extruded semolina maccheroni to good effect.

Start by cutting the broccoli into apricot-sized florets. Fill the largest saucepan you have with water, salt profusely and bring to a boil. Immerse the broccoli and remove them with a sieve when they are cooked but still crunchy - about 8 minutes. Put them in a covered bowl. Do not discard the water.


In a large saucepan, fry the finely chopped onion in a little olive oil over medium-high heat. When the onions are pale brown, add the chopped anchovies and cook for another minute or so.


Add the tomato concentrate and a glass of the broccoli's cooking water. Mix well and bring to a boil.


Add the raisins and pine nuts and boil for a few more minutes. Add the saffron but not too soon as the heat would vaporize some of its delicate fragrance.


Cook the pasta in the same water as the broccoli. I make my own macaroni but you can use any quality semolina flour, bronze extruded tubular pasta. Undercook by at least 2 minutes - crunchier than al dente. This is needed as the pasta will later be left to infuse in the sauce and will thus continue to cook.


Mix the broccoli in the sauce ...


... then add the cooked pasta and leave covered for 10 minutes or as long as you can wait.


Serve with the softest pecorino coarsely grated or no cheese at all.

This is a most memorable dish with a very classy and delicate saffron taste that combines perfectly with the raisins and pine nuts. A beautiful illustration of the Sicilian genius for marrying North African influences to a shared Italian heritage.

The original recipe is called 'pasta chi vruoccoli 'rriminati' and comes from Anna Pomar's La cucina tradizionale siciliana.


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36 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Ruth
What a wonderful looking dish.  So rich and simple.  Thanks so much for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.
  • #2
  • Answered by fx
Thank you Ruth!
  • #3
  • Comment by Andria
I made this for dinner tonight. I used sardines instead of anchovies as that is what I had. Who knew that sardines and broccoli made such good plate-fellows?! I will be making this regularly for sure, but next time I'll try the anchovies.
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Andria, I'm sure you made a great dish. Just remember that in this particular recipe the anchovy fillet literally disappear in the sauce. Their use is only to add a little hit-me-back taste but you really couldn't tell they are in there at all. If you like sardines I recommend you investigate Pasta con le sarde, another Sicilian specialty.
  • #5
  • Comment by maureen
A wonderful wonderful web site...Beautiful pictures, marvelous foods. In Venice I had a sauce on my pasta that contained meat. I think it started with a b.. any suggestions on what it may have been?  One of the best sites on the web. Thank You!!!
  • #6
  • Comment by agatha
Hi Francois, I have a question about this pasta… I followed your recipe exactly but ended up with a very bland dish, meaning no salty at all. I was thinking that the salt would come from the anchovies, but maybe I didn’t use the “right ones”? Is that possible? Which brand did you use? Also, it was a little “dry”, I don’t know why but I didn’t get the same amount of sauce like I saw in your pictures. Other than that, the pasta tasted good and it was very easy to prepare, thanks for the recipe!
  • #7
  • Comment by brian
Pepper is in the ingredient list but not in the procedure. You do need to add pepper to make this dish work. Also, try putting the saffron into some warm water (from the broccoli) to let its flavour emerge before adding it to the sauce. Also test the seasoning before adding the broccoli and add salt as necessary. The anchovies may not be enough.
  • #8
  • Comment by Dean Gilliland
Made the Sicilian pasta w. broccoli the other night.  Even the 14 year old girls liked it if that is any endorsement.  I did not mention the anchovies however.  I just wasn't sure if 2lbs of broccoli reffered to just the florets or to whole bunches.  Thanks.Dean
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
I am told teenage girls are very hard to please with food, so I do appreciate their endorsement for this broccoli pasta. Aren't they all vegetarians who don't like vegetables these days? The weight is of the complete broccolo, not only the florets. Italian cooking does not use ultra-precise measuring like the French do, so there is room for variations. Thanks for trying this recipe!
  • #10
  • Comment by Jan Neveu
This is THE most fabulous recipe ... and I made it for ONE!! ME!!!  I simply cut back on all ingredients ... I used anchovy paste rather than anchovies ... otherwise, I followed the recipe verbatim ... oh, and I used red onions ... this dish is so elegant and impressive ... a definite for an elegant dinner party ... wonderful ... not dry ... simply perfect ... elegantly wonderful ... I highly recommend this dish.
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
Jan, thanks a lot for trying my recipe! I am glad it worked for you - anchovy paste is a more than acceptable substitute for canned anchovies. Hope that you'll manage to try some of my other Sicilian recipes!
  • #12
  • Comment by Steve
Hey,

I tried it and it came out really dry....but im a little inexperienced so it coulda been just me.  

but when i reheated i added in a can of pomodori ciliegi (cherry tomatoes) and some red wine, and that made it nice and wet.   

thanks though--i love this site and the recipe
steve
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
Steve, thanks for your message. Indeed it can come out a bit try and the tomatoes can definitely stem this problem. I'll look through the recipe again and try to find a fix.
  • #14
  • Comment by meeba
I made a lazy lame broccoli, pasta and cheese dish this evening and now I can't wait for tomorrow to try your recipe, which is sure delicious. I was never good at combining healthy food with great taste, but this dish seems to have the secret. thanks
  • FX's answer→ Meeba apparently the Mediterranean diet is very healthy and God knows how good it can taste in Sicily!

  • #16
  • Comment by Tony H.
Francois, this rocks.  Sultanas and Anchovies, marriage in heaven. like the Cash Cow, will be a staple.
Looking forward to 2009 recipe line up. Maybe some deserts, perhaps some Eastern Block fair or hard core Indian..world travel through my gut.

  • FX's answer→ Tony, oh yes this one is a winner. In fact I never managed to redo this dish as good as it was when I took the pictures - too bad!

  • #18
  • Comment by Lionel
I bought some broccoli yesterday for a completely unrelated reason but this morning I remembered about this recipe and decided to try it tonight.
It was definitely a good idea, the dish was DELICIOUS and not dry at all (I added a bit less than a glass of the broccoli/pasta water to the sauce and let it reduce a little before adding the broccoli and pasta).
  • FX's answer→ Lionel, I am glad you liked it!

Would this work with orchiette?  I have a really nice bag that's been sitting in pantry far too long.  I saw your pasta cooked as risotto recipe, but this one appeals to me more.  Beautiful photos all over your site---count me impressed!
  • FX's answer→ For orecchiette and broccoli I recommend you use the recipe in my article "Pasta cooked like Risotto", it's even simpler than this one!

I forgot to ask, after you add the broccoli and pasta and cover, is the stove turned off?  Or do you simmer for 10 additional minutes?  Thanks!
  • FX's answer→ It really depends on how cooked your pasta and broccoli is. If they are already cooked through, don't wait, otherwise just leave on very low heat so the flavors combine while they finish cooking.

  • #24
  • Comment by Jano Couacaud
I can't even remember what I was looking for when I stumbled upon your site today.. Man this is food porn of the HIGHEST order! I am a semi-professional photographer and a very keen home cook and your choice of recipes and superb photography are a joy. I will be back and try a lot of the recipes. Loved the Moldovian pig feature by the way, but probably won't try to emulate this in Mauritius where I live. Best, Jano
  • #25
  • Comment by Fasulye (HTLAL-Forum)
I cooked this pasta dish and it tasted quite uncommon and I thought that something was missing, but I am not sure, what.
Normally I am used to cooking with vegetable broth and dairy products such as crème fraîche. I left out anchovies and saffron. Instead I used fresh persil as a herb. Before I this I have never used fresh herbs, but I want to follow your advice. I prefer using "Vollkornnudeln" (quality: Bio Hartweizen Vollkorn), to make them myself would be too advanced level for now. For sure I used too much water, but that was my own beginner's fault. I would appreciate your expert's advice because I would like to cook this dish once again to improve it. Fasulye
  • FX's answer→ Fasulye, I nearly choked reading the first half your message, then smiled when I discovered it was from you who told me you were beginning to cook. So let me say gently a hard and fast rule of cooking. Never, ever change anything to a recipe the first time you do it. Leaving out saffron and anchovies, then using some bought whole wheat noodles is like trying to learn Russian using an Ukrainian dictionary and Bulgarian grammar. You'll never get anything proper that way. If the recipe you want to do calls for ingredients you don't have, I recommend you choose another recipe. Of course as you cook better and better you can probably get away with substituting an ingredient from time to time. But such a divine recipe cooked liked this - I prefer not too think about it!

  • #27
  • Comment by Marc
I made this on Sunday with home-made and hand-cut egg fettuce. When I saw that you used only 2 small anchovies fillets I immediately decided to use 4 knowing the Swiss have a natural fear of sea fish, just to be on the safe side! :-D

I used somewhat harder and saltier pecorino than you suggested but was happy to be able to get some in the shop. The anchovies kick is amazing and next time.... probably 6 fillets! (1 fillet = half an anchovie fish)

I was curious that there is no garlic in this recipe, of course I didn´t add any out of respect and must say that it should not go in, it would destroy the tender taste of the saffron and pine nuts.

This really is a delicious recipe and thank you very much for sharing.

My guests were delighted and I obtained extra bonus points as I let them cut their own pasta.



  • #28
  • Comment by Allison M
BRAVO! Such simple ingredients, such superb result. I've made this twice since I stumbled on this recipe a week ago. Only thing I changed was to add a bit of red pepper. This will be a family staple. Too bad that you're not posting any new recipes, I love the site!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Allison, glad this dish made it into your family's classics! I hope to post again some time but until then you have 250 recipes already on this blog.

  • #30
  • Comment by Julie
I had a broccoli left in my fridge and wanted to try it with pasta but didn't have a recipe in mind. I found this superb recipe with beautiful pictures and decided to go for it. The result was excellent and my boyfriend who is Sicilian loved it!! Thank you!
  • FX's answer→ Good it worked for you Julie, I hope you'll get to try some of my other Sicilian recipes!

  • #32
  • Comment by Belle Cohen
OMG!! I love your blog!!! this is probably the best blog ever! Thanks so much, now that i  have discovered your blog, i will be cooking from it. Keep up with your most generous & excellent work!
  • #33
  • Comment by Gill
I was watching Montalbano last night and came looking for this recipe. I can hardly wait until the fresh broccoli hits the shops!
  • #34
  • Comment by Heipsy Arias
Hola! Prepare esta receta, fabulosa! Mi marido que es mitad italiano (messina) y mitad suizo (oftringen argovia) quedo fascinado. Pero, porque no han publicado cosas nuevas? Creo que desde el año 2009 no hay nada nuevo, al menos en español. Yo soy venezolana, residenciada en Panama y me encanta este blog. La instrucciones escritas en forma amena y graciosa. En verdad excelente. Saludos
Authentic Sicilian pasta con i broccoli is actually made with a variety closer to cauliflower. Their dialect calls it broccoli. Surely it's good all the same!
  • #36
  • Comment by Francisco
DELICIOUS!
Simple, flavorful, not to mention the pics!
...and easy/quick!
the broccoli tasted great - love dthe "dry" quality, as opposed to dripping sauce; the undertones of the flavor were rich and simple
thanks:)



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