A delicious and healthy Mediterranean diet recipe!
I first discovered orecchiette pasta with broccoli and anchovies whilst on holiday in Apulia (Puglia) several summers ago. This fresh pasta is shaped into "little ears" or "orecchiette" which are perfect for holding tomato sauce, or in the case of the Apulian recipe, olive oil and vegetables such as broccoli. It was in a trattoria in Rome, however, that I first ate a variant of the dish with olives added to the mix. I loved it so much that I now regularly cook this at home.
It's a very quick, healthy way of eating broccoli all year round. I use frozen broccoli in this recipe, cooked together with fresh pasta in the same water. In fact, some studies actually suggest that boiling or steaming certain vegetables, particularly broccoli, actually boosts the levels of some antioxidants.
- 250 g frozen broccoli
- 400 g fresh (or dried) oriecchette
- 5 anchovies
- 1 handful of brown pitted olives (I use Taggiasca)
- 2 unpeeled and bruised cloves of garlic
- Generous amount of olive oil
- Salt for pasta water. Use sparingly - the olives and anchovies will add lots of flavour to the sauce.
- Fresh red chilli pepper - amount depends on personal preference and heat of chilli!
- Handful fresh parsley (optional)
- Start heating a large saucepan of water (for the pasta and broccoli).
- Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a wide pan, add the anchovies and heat until they start to break apart.
- Add the bruised garlic, chilli pepper and olives and toss in the oil until they sizzle. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- When water in saucepan comes to the boil add a small amount of salt (less than usual for pasta as the sauce is salty).
- Add the frozen broccoli.
- Put lid on saucepan and wait for the water to return to the boil.
- Once water starts bubbling again, add the orecchiette.
- Cook for approx. 7 minutes. Cooking times will vary according to the pasta you use - check your packet!
- Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander, retaining a little of the cooking water.
- Add the pasta and the broccoli to the pan with anchovies and olives, mix well and heat the contents for several minutes, adding a little of the cooking water if necessary.
- Turn off the heat and add a handful of fresh parsley.