Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Slow-Cooked Broccoli Pasta


It's long been The Thing to serve vegetables al dente, with crunch and a bit of texture. I love them that way; squeaky beans against the teeth, that sharp fresh crunch through a sugar snap pea, the juicy resistance of a steamed carrot. But similarly, I like my vegetables also cooked long and slow, so that they fall apart and melt, releasing all their flavours. 

This slow-cooked broccoli pasta sauce is just that. The broccoli florets are scorched in the pan first so that the flavours are more concentrated. A fragrant medley of dried oregano, chilli and garlic make the house smell glorious and after an hour or so, you have a thick flavoursome pasta sauce that coats a short shape like a bathrobe. Big and fluffy. 

Slow-cooked Broccoli Tortiglioni 

Serves 2

1 head of broccoli, florets separated, rinsed and dried
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, minced
A large pinch of chilli flakes
1 small glass of white wine
1 tin of plum tomatoes
A splash of sherry vinegar
A large pinch of sugar
basil, to garnish
heaped tbsp mascarpone (optional)
4 tbsp olive oil

Add the oil to a pan and when hot, add the broccoli. Cook on a high heat until the broccoli has darkened brown spots on the florets but not burnt. Remove. Leave to cook slightly, then add more oil if needed and cook the oregano, garlic and chilli on a low heat until the garlic has softened and is fragrant. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Put the broccoli back in with the tomatoes, plus the tomato tin equivalent of water. Add the vinegar and sugar, then simmer for half an hour. Stir, then add the lid half cocked and simmer for another half hour. Make sure it doesn't catch. 

After an hour the broccoli should have broken down into the sauce. Season to taste. Toss through short shaped pasta (tortiglioni was ideal - penne or rigatone would be too) with basil for garnish and a dollop of mascarpone. 

11 comments:

Shu Han said...

I like slow cooking veggies too so they become meltingly soft. But just never thought of broccoli as a slow-cooking candidate. WIll try!

Helen said...

I'm struggling with this idea. I had brocolli scorch by accident a couple of days ago when the pan steamed dry and it was one of the most vile things I ever smelt! I guess I'll have to try this and prove myself wrong!

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Shu-Han - Do try it - really brings the flavour out.

Helen - this has 4 tbsp of oil for it to fry in, so it's kind of like an in-saucepan roasting. Perhaps scorch was the wrong word.

Catherine said...

I like to 'scorch' broccoli with olive oil and garlic and then eat it just like that. I stir fry it first and then add the garlic, but not burn any of it. It makes the broccoli taste rather nutty. I also like roasting it. Never did a slow cooked broccoli though. Wonder if it would work in a slow cooker.

Keen on Food said...

I think this is a great post and recipe as everyone these days is lead to believe that vegetables should be cooked to the minimum amount of tine to preserve nutrients and flavour, when actually, much of traditional cooking from the mediterranean, middle-east and beyond advises a long-cooking process to bring out the flavour and render a really soft texture. I had this with kale recently; not satisfied with steaming it for under 10 minutes, I decided to cook it on low, covered for 45. Much better!

cquek said...

that is interesting.. i must try to learn from you.

Shu Han said...

ok so i tried it today.. yum! it turns more into a sauce of sorts than an actual veg you can pick at but I quit elike this take on it! cheers lizzie!

Katy Salter @ Pinch of Salt said...

Oh god that looks good, I love brocolli roasted too so the florets get all crispy.

Becci said...

Catching up on your recent posts, and clearly I've been missing out on some good shiz. I'm intrigued. Making this fo sho.

Anonymous said...

Could you use the stalk along with the florets?

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Catherine - I like to roast broccoli too, in the oven as it really brings its flavour out. I reckon it would work in the slow cooker well - just use decent thick tinned tomatoes.

Keen on Food - Thanks! I also like long-braised kale.

cquek - hope it goes well...

Shu-Han - yup, the broccoli breaks down into the sauce to coat the pasta.

Katy - Me too - crispy broccoli is ace.

Becci - Thanks! Do let me know how it goes.

Anon - yup, cut them up a little smaller though as they're a bit tougher than the florets.