Broccoli & Shells

I’m a sucker for big, elaborate family meals, full of treat food you only get once or twice a year but that you look forward to all the months in between.  This past weekend was a feast at Dave’s parents’ place, and Dave, Julia & I contributed a caramel-Bourbon-pumpkin tart from the cover of Fine Cooking magazine that was both delicious and the product of a thousand hours of work over three separate days. Thanksgiving is a time for culinary decadence.

The week after Thanksgiving is not.

The week after Thanksgiving is all about leftovers.  You know I’m partial to pie for breakfast; I love this time of year.  But it can also be a week low on vegetables, regular groceries, and much desire to make dishes. It’s a good time for broccoli & shells.


This pasta: Fast. Cheap. Mini ingredient list.  Delicious smell.  Green vegetables!  And garlic for your immune system in case you celebrated a little hard over the long weekend or got caught wet-footed in the rain waiting for delayed streetcars on your way to and from work.  (I spoke with a very lovely elderly woman at the bookstore this weekend who told me that her secret for good health was to eat three boiled heads of garlic every day.  This will get you partway there).

I love this pasta dish.  Eat it yourself when you want something fast & nutritious, or break it out for unexpected week night company.  And if you want to combine two batches of leftovers into a beautiful thing, I’ll bet the garlic-broccoli & pasta would combine with shredded bits of leftover turkey to make a pretty stellar soup or casserole.  Let me know how it goes.

IMG_1887Notes: Give your broccoli stems a look over before you chop them up.  If their skins are tough, use a vegetable peeler to strip them off.  You’ll want to chop the stems smaller than the bits of head, too, since they’ll take longer to cook through. Drained your pasta before you could add the pasta water to the broccoli?  I’ve done that too; just use hot water from the tap to steam the veggies.  Eat this pasta as soon as it lands in the bowls; it’s at its most spectacular piping hot from the stove.


Broccoli & Shells

slightly adapted from Sundays at Moosewood


1 lb pasta (shells or penne)
4-5 cups finely chopped broccoli, heads and stems
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
olive oil for drizzling


1.  Start a large pot of salted water boiling. When the water is rolling, stir in pasta and cook.

2.  While water is waiting to boil, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add broccoli and garlic, stirring frequently, until the garlic has gone golden and the broccoli is vibrant green.  Generously grind black pepper over top, and add a few ladles of boiling pasta water, allowing the broccoli to steam.

3.  Drain the pasta when it’s al dente or cooked to your liking.  Place it in four warmed dishes, and top with the garlic-broccoli and cheese.  Drizzle sparingly with olive oil, and serve.


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  1. Liam makes this and adds clams – delicious! Makes even me enjoy broccoli…

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