Easy, tasty and cheap – broccoli and pasta recipe

A peasant dinner of Italian sausage, pasta with broccoli and Wheatfield's olive bread.

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.

I was looking for some cooking inspiration, and came across a You Tube series called Laura in the Kitchen. These cooking videos feature a young Italian woman who makes recipes from her home land.

I recognize many of Laura’s recipes as those my mom used to make when my sisters and I were growing up. Most dishes are simple and uncomplicated and the ingredients are usually pantry staples or easily purchased at your local grocer.

The recipe I chose to try was something similar I remember my mom making, but which I had forgotten about until I saw it on Laura in the Kitchen.

Pasta and broccoli was so easy to make and required few ingredients.  I made it as a side dish with grilled Italian sausage and a tossed salad.  I had also purchased an olive bread from Wheatfields, which was perfect with this dish.

This is how I made it:

Pasta and Broccoli (serves 4)

1 head fresh broccoli – florets only

2 cloves garlic, sliced

Red pepper flakes to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chicken broth

Olive oil

1 lb rigatoni (cooked al dente) – reserving about a cup of the cooking water

Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic slices over medium heat. Sauté garlic to a light golden color.  Add red pepper flakes.  Add broccoli.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté a few minutes until broccoli turns a bright green.  Add chicken broth and cover skillet.  Let the broccoli cook until the broth has been pretty much absorbed into the veggies – about 10 minutes.  Remove the lid and break up the broccoli pieces, leaving some chunks.  Stir in the cooked rigatoni to combine.  If the pasta looks too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.   Sprinkle a generous helping of Parmesan and stir so the cheese melts.  Drizzle with olive oil right before serving.

My family loved this meal.  It was so simple, yet so flavorful.  Oh, and so economical.