Orecchiette with Broccoli

I tend to avoid frozen food at all cost, but people, it’s time to reconnect with the freezer section of your supermarket. Even though the main ingredient of this dish comes right out of a bag, it’s wonderful, mindlessly simple, and you can toss it together in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

Oh, and look, I managed to find orecchitte! With my one box of this not-always-in-stock pasta, I had to do something special. And when I flipped through the pages of January’s Gourmet and saw a bowl of this pasta, I knew this was it. The garlic and red pepper flakes (and of course, a large handful of Parmesan) really pull all the flavors together, and the “little ears” are perfect for scooping up bits of broccoli.

Orecchiette with Broccoli

Recipe adapted from Gourmet

5 garlic cloves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bag frozen chopped broccoli (16 oz; do not thaw!)
¾ cup water
¼ tsp. hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
1 lb. dried orecchiette pasta

Heat oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Grate garlic cloves into the oil and cook for 1 minute, until just beginning to turn golden.

Add broccoli, red-pepper flakes, salt and pepper, water, and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is very tender, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve one cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

Toss pasta with broccoli and ½ cup reserved pasta water. Season with salt.  Serve with cheese for sprinkling.