kitchen firsts: broccolini and sausage pasta
This week’s kitchen first might be a bit cheaty– I mean, I’ll admit that broccolini does not taste terribly different from regular broccoli. But it is technically a different vegetable (many people think broccolini is just young broccoli, but it is actually a cross between broccoli and kai-lan, or chinese broccoli), and this was another easy and quick weeknight pasta dish. Having never bought broccolini before I thought I’d give it a try.
The verdict? We enjoyed the leafiness and more complex flavor (it tastes kind of like an asparagus-y broccoli), and thought it tasted really nice with the hot italian sausage. The caveat is that broccolini is usually significantly more expensive than broccoli (where I was shopping, about three times the price of regular broc), but I thought it was worth the $3 for the novelty of a new flavor in our regular old pasta. You could also use broccoli rabe in this recipe for a slightly spicier, sharper taste, or of course you could go for some good old fashioned broccoli if you’ve got some on hand. Either way, I am always looking for new combinations of things to toss up with pasta, and we thought this was a really satisfying mix of spicy and sweet that was made all the better by the fact that it only took 30 minutes to come together.
Pasta with Italian Sausage and Broccolini
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best 30 Minute Recipe
1/2 lb pasta of your choice
1/2 lb hot italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on how hot your italian sausage is to start with
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (or just use pasta water if you prefer)
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Set pasta water to boil. Then add italian sausage to a large skillet and cook until lightly browned, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon. When it’s just browning, add your chopped garlic and red pepper flakes, and stir until fragrant, about a minute.
By now your water should be boiling, so get your pasta going. Then, toss your broccolini into the skillet with the sausage and stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt and your chicken or vegetable stock and cover skillet for 2 minutes to steam cook, until the broccolini is bright green. Then remove lid and cook another few minutes until stock evaporates and broccolini is tender. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm while you wait for the pasta to finish cooking.
When your pasta is cooked to taste, drain– you can reserve a little of the pasta cooking liquid if you like a looser sauce on the pasta. Then toss pasta in with your sausage and broccolini mixture, adding a tablespoon of olive oil, your parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.