We wanted something fast for dinner. Something that we could have on the table in about 30 minutes, and something from ingredients we had on hand. We did a quick search for “broccoli mushroom recipes” and found one that sounded good. So, we figured that we’d try it, even though for us, that meant the additional effort of making fresh pasta.
This recipe is based on a Pasta with Mushrooms and Broccoli recipe from New York Times Cooking; primarily, the only changes we made were to use rosemary and sage in place of thyme, and fresh Spaghetti alla Chitarra in place of store-bought spaghetti. Even with making our own pasta, this is an easy, satisfying, dish.
There’s not much in this dish, so make everything count. Use a good olive oil, and, especially, a very good Parmesan cheese (or Grana Padano, which is what we use). That means you need to grate it yourself — no shaker cans. If you don’t, you’ll be disappointed flavor-wise. Also, when you cook the mushrooms, don’t be shy about letting them brown. That’s more flavor. We did use fresh pasta for ours, but dried spaghetti will work, too. We recommend using a good quality pasta (they’re most definitely not all the same); our go-to brand is Barilla.
Procedure in detail:
Prepare broccoli. We want two things from the broccoli stalks: the florets cut into small pieces, and the stems turned into thin ribbons. Cut the stems from the crowns, peel off the tough outer skin (we save that to make soup stock), and use a vegetable peeler to shave the stems into thin ribbons. Use a knife to cut apart the florets into pieces smaller than about 1/2 inch. Keep the shreds and florets separate.
Sauté mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. The skillet will hold everything, including the pasta, so you’re better off erring on the side of a too-large skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and let sear, without stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes. This will brown the mushrooms, adding flavor. Give everything a stir to flip over the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper to flavor, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are golden with blackened flecks. It’s all about generating flavor from the searing action of the heat.
Add broccoli shreds and season. Add the ribbons of broccoli and stir to combine. Being so thin, they’ll cook very quickly, in probably a minute or so. When the ribbons are done, add the garlic, rosemary, sage, more salt and pepper, and stir, cooking until fragrant. Remove from the heat to prevent burning the garlic.
Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil and add the pasta, stirring to prevent it from sticking together.
Add broccoli florets. The key is to add the florets about 2 minutes before the pasta is done. With fresh-made pasta, that’s after about 2 minutes of boiling pasta (fresh pasta is fast); check the timing directions for store-bought pasta to determine when to add the florets. You want the florets to cook, but retain some crunch.
Drain pasta. Before draining, use a measuring cup to scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Simply dip it into the pan and let water run into the cup. Drain pasta in a colander.
Combine. Place the mushroom mixture over medium-high heat and add the pasta water, stirring to combine. It’ll start simmering in about 30 seconds, which is the cue to add the drained pasta. Stir the pasta, gently so you don’t break it apart, until the mushrooms and broccoli shreds are mixed in. Since you just drained the pasta, it’ll be plenty hot, so you don’t have to worry about heating the pasta through.
Serve. Divide the pasta mixture among warmed bowls (we just place them in the oven on warm when we start heating the water for the pasta), sprinkle with a goodly amount of cheese, and a sprinkling of salt (we used a crunchy finishing salt, but a bit of kosher salt will be fine), and pepper, and serve immediately.
We loved this dish. It seemed to get better and more satisfying with each bite. We liked the fact that the fresh pasta had a smooth, soft texture, while the florets, stayed a bit crunchy, and the mushrooms were slightly chewy. The combination of rosemary and sage is always good, and it seems to pair well for a dish in the fall. And, of course, how can you go wrong with freshly grated Parmesan cheese? Well, you can’t, so an easy five stars.