As much as I like cooking for other people, I REALLY like cooking for myself. It’s a chance to really tap into how I’m feeling in a particular moment, what I’m craving, and then to give myself exactly that.
There’s an actual an art to knowing what you want (believe me, I talk about it a lot in therapy). And one thing that I almost always want is pasta. If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you’ve probably noticed that I make a lot of it. Why pasta? Why is that my thing? I think it’s a blank canvas deal: you can dress pasta up any way that you want. Craving meat? Make a meaty pasta. Craving cheese? Make a cheesy pasta. And on Saturday night I was craving vegetables, so I decided to make a veggie-heavy pasta.
Craig was still in Palm Springs (at a film festival) so I had the night to myself. There was broccoli rabe leftover from the Three Smoke Alarm Sausage and Chicken incident, so I just pulled that out of the fridge and got to work.
Step one: hack the bottoms off of the broccoli rabe because they’re tough.
Then you just chop up the rest into big chunks.
Set a big pot of water on the stove, salt it heavily (I pour directly from the box), and bring to a boil.
Then in a large skillet, add a big glug of olive oil (let’s say 1/4 cup) and 6 to 7 cloves of garlic thinly sliced. Throw in a few anchovies, they’ll add so much flavor. Crank up the heat and add a big pinch of red chile flakes.
Once the garlic starts to turn golden, add all of your broccoli rabe at once (careful: it’ll sizzle!). See lead pic.
Meanwhile, drop your pasta into the pasta pot. Because I wanted a higher ratio of vegetables to pasta, I used only half a box of fusilli.
Stir your broccoli rabe all around so it gets coated in all of that delicious oil. Then add a ladleful of the salty pasta cooking water and cover your broccoli rabe pan.
The timing should work out so that when your pasta’s cooked, your broccoli rabe will have wilted down into this.
Isn’t that crazy how much it cooks down? Taste it here: doesn’t it taste AMAZING? (Mine really did. Bitter and salty and deep.)
Lift your pasta (still al dente; a minute less than package directions) into the pan with the broccoli rabe.
Stir all around with another ladleful of pasta water on high heat until the pasta absorbs all of that flavorful liquid.
Off the heat, add a big pile of grated Parmesan (1/2 a cup or so?).
Stir that in and here’s where you really start tasting and doctoring. I think I added lemon zest here (you can kind of see it in the picture if you squint), black pepper, salt, lemon juice, until it tasted so good, it was almost surreal.
Into a bowl that went and there I was in my happy place: in front of the TV with pasta (mostly vegetables!) watching Wine Country on Netflix. I wish the same kind of happiness for you.