Growing up eating pasta, in and out of Italia, my family and I have become specialists on the secrets to the classic dish.
Many people seem to focus mainly on the sauce they will be making, and not the pasta itself. There is a big difference between different brands and styles of pasta. It has taken me many years, but I have finally found my type of pasta: any pasta made with semolina wheat, or any pasta extruded through bronze dies. In terms of brands, the best pasta was one I found while in Torino last year, in the famous store Eataly. The pasta is made by Premiato Pastifficio Afeltra, and I know it’s good cause my Nonna thinks so too!
Besides the type of pasta, the amount of salt you put in the boiling water makes a big difference as well. For 4 servings, you’ll need a few generous handfuls of the sea’s seasoning in that pot to really bring out the flavor of the pasta. No matter how much salt you add to the sauce, the pasta won’t have flavor if you don’t give it salt in the boiling process.
Whenever my older brother, Alessandro, and I are left home alone for the night, we always make pasta. I made this pasta for
us last time, one that I had never made before. He liked it a lot, which is saying something because he is not a fan of things that are green.
I based my recipe from a recipe in the book titled “Williams Sonoma Collection: Pasta” by Erica De Mane and Chuck Williams.
I don’t include measurements in a pasta recipe not only because I am lazy, but also because “eyeballing” your ingredients is really how you build a knowledge of the correct ratios, and how you make a recipe your own.
Broccoli and Spicy Bread Crumb Pasta:
- Pasta (I would recommend a pasta like fusilli or gemelli over spaghetti for this recipe)
- Stale, dry Bread
- Olive Oil
- Garlic (about 4 cloves)
- Fresh, Hot Green Pepper
- A touch of Dried Oregano (about 2 teaspoons)
- Dry White Wine
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- Anchovy fillets (Optional. I did not have any on hand, so I haven’t tried it out.)
Boil a pot of salted water. Don’t be shy! Salt the water by the handful!
Take your stale bread and grind it into crumbs in a blender. If you do not have stale bread, then use regular packaged breadcrumbs. Although, making your own gives a preferred kick to the pasta.
Chop the hot green pepper into tiny pieces.
Over a pan on medium heat, toast the breadcrumbs with a touch of olive oil, the green pepper, and a dash of dried oregano. Toast for about 2 minutes, or until golden.
Steam the broccoli in the pot of water for about 3 minutes, or until they are soft enough to eat, but still contain a crunch. Drain them.
In the same water, throw in your favorite pasta and cook until aldente (pasta with firmness). Be sure that salted water is salty enough by tasting the pasta. You may want to add some more..
Over medium-low heat, sauté the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes in olive oil until the garlic is softened.
Add the broccoli to the garlic oil, with some white wine (I used about a 1/4 cup for 5 servings). Let it boil through until the wine is cooked off a bit.
Combine the pasta and broccoli sauce. Then toss in the bread crumbs (and chopped up anchovy fillets if you’d like).
Sprinkle with some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano. Buon appetito!