Growing up, my mom frequently made what we referred to as “white spaghetti” (aka spaghetti without red sauce!). The pasta was coated with garlicky olive oil and topped with crispy garlic slices, broccoli florets, and Parmesan cheese. Classic. 🙂
This version is from Old World Italian: Recipes & Secrets from Our Travels in Italy by Mimi Thorisson. The recipe is included in the “Roman Pastas” section of this beautiful book. It is a little bit more indulgent than my mom’s rendition because it contains more cheese as well as heavy cream. I loved that the broccoli was chopped and incorporated into the creamy sauce.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 1 large head broccoli and stems (about 1 pound or 450g), cut into small florets and coarsely chopped
- 1 pound (500g) dried spaghetti
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 garlic clove(s), minced
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- 1 1/4 cups (115g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add the broccoli and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Remove with a kitchen spider or slotted spoon and set aside, keeping the water boiling to cook the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups (500ml) of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the empty pot and set aside.
- Chop the onion and mince the garlic in a food processor. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and sauté until tender and golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the cream over the mixture and cook for 15 seconds. Remove from heat.
- Transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor and process until roughly creamy.
- Add the broccoli sauce and a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the pot of pasta and set the pot over medium heat. Cook, tossing frequently, adding more pasta water as needed to adjust the consistency, until the pasta is well coated, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. Scatter the grated Parmesan on top and serve immediately.