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Fettuccini with Spicy Broccolini

January 3, 2007

Fettuccini with Spicy Broccolini

What I really wanted to cook tonight was Orecchiette with Spicy Broccoli Rabe, but the useless hippie mart across the street, of course, had no broccoli rabe. Nor orecchiette. So some substitutions were in order. The impetus behind the meal had nothing to do, after all, with the broccoli rabe (and only a little to do with orecchiette…I love orecchiette), but rather more to do with getting rid of the leftover anchovies in my refrigerator.

So dinner quickly became Fettuccini with Spicy Broccolini. Broccolini is awfully fun to say.

I’m not actually sure why I wanted to cook a dish for the sole purpose of using anchovies. Despite the pleasing puttanesca experience, I’m still not sure I’m an anchovy person. When I opened up the contained they’d been living in for the past month, the smell wasn’t one that made me immediately think, “Yum, I can’t wait to eat those!” And when I pondered this recipe all day, I just kept thinking it seemed too simple, too basic.

Of course, there is something to be said for getting back to the basics where pasta is concerned. I’m in the middle of reading Buford’s Heat right now, and I keep thinking of the refrain, the pasta is what’s important, not what’s on it. Not like my Barilla boxed pasta really deserves odes or anything, but the point is that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about learning the basics, and developing a taste for the simple, easy pasta dishes that focus on just one or two ingredients. That mindset made the idea of eating pasta that was really nothing but broccolini and some anchovies a little more palatable.

Fettuccini with Spicy Broccolini

These measurements make just enough pasta for one hungry girl.

  • a small bunch of broccolini, maybe about 8 or 10 pieces
  • 2 anchovy fillets and a bit of the oil
  • 1 large glove of garlic
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • a couple grindings of black pepper
  • fettuccini (or any other pasta you like, really)
  • 1 T. olive oil

Put a pot of salted water on to boil, and blanch the broccolini, ends trimmed, for about a minute.  When you’ve removed the broccolini, put the fettuccini in the same water, and cook it until it’s al dente or whatever, however long you’re supposed to cook fettuccini (I guess 12 minutes?).

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over not-too-high heat. I used high heat and almost burned the crap out of my garlic. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, and about a minute later, add the anchovies. Smash the anchovies up with the back of a spoon or fork, and cook it up for about another minute. Then add the broccolini, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Saute all of this for about 6 or 7 minutes.

I made the mistake of bad timing, and my broccolini stuff was ready way before my pasta was ready. It started getting a little browned, and very, very wilted. At first I was worried, but as it turns out, it’s kind of good a little bit browned. Anyway, I had to turn the heat off, and turn it back on when the pasta was done, so be forewarned that the pasta takes almost twice as long as the broccolini stuffs.

When the pasta is cooked, add it too the pan with the broccolini, along with a little splash of the pasta water, and stir it all up to loosen the garlic and anchovies and coat the pasta. Of course you’ve gotta put some parm on it, because, duh, everything is better with parmesan.

Despite my various misgivings, this was not a bad meal. The anchovy flavor wasn’t overbearing, and it had just enough kick to be interesting. Plus, I totally love broccolini and think it is a genius of a vegetable, so it’s hard to go wrong there. I’ve never had broccoli rabe, though, and was seriously looking forward to it! Stupid hippie mart.

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