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Robin Garr

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RCP: Broccoli and cheese pasta revisited

by Robin Garr » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:20 pm

A standard quick-and-healthy meal around here involves cooking broccoli, stirring it into a cheesy sauce and pouring the result over pasta. You'll find the basics from my Oct. 29 2013 report.

Tonight I revisited the dish, making a change or two mostly just because I have a hard time making exactly the same dish twice. This time I let the broccoli cook past the parboiled stage until it was fairly soft, then chopped it roughly before returning it to the Cheddar-and-Parmigiano Mornay. I also stirred in a dollop of Dijon mustard, a flavor that I thought would work and play well with the broccoli; and separately sauteed a bit of chopped onion and minced garlic to bring additional flavor to the mix.

In order:

1. Cut one or two broccoli "trees" into florets and simmer them in boiling salted water until fairly soft, about 6 minutes. Drain and reserve, reserving the cooking water, and use this water in the next step ...
2. Cook 4 ounces penne pasta (or the long or short pasta of your choice) in the broccoli-scented water until al dente, about 12-14 minutes for penne.
3. While the pasta is cooking, make a quick Mornay-style sauce, whisking 2 tablespoons flour into 1 ounce melted organic butter over moderately high heat. When the flour is incorporated and startint to turn reddish, add 1 cup milk (or veg broth or water if you prefer), a little at a time, until you have a thick white sauce. Stir in about 3/4 cup sharp Cheddar and 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and black pepper.
4. Meanwhile, during slack time, you'll have sauted about 1/4 cup chopped onion and one minced garlic clove in a little butter or oil. Add it to the simmering Mornay, and stir in the reserved broccoli. Hold over very low heat until the pasta is done.
5. Drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce. Check seasoning and serve in warm bowls.

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