Broccoli stems are given a caramelized head start over their separated florets in the cooking of this quick and surprisingly filling dish. Consequently, the vegetable gets a one-two flavor and texture boost that might convert any broccoli skeptics in your household.
Serve with warm garlic bread.
- 2/3 cup walnut pieces
- 1 head broccoli (about 1 pound)
- 3 medium cloves garlic
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 large lemon, washed well
- 12 ounces dried spaghetti
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 7 ounces whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese, preferably fresh
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat (for the pasta).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake, shaking them occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until they start to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, trim off the broccoli florets; set aside. Cut and discard about 1 inch from the stem end of the broccoli, then cut the large stem crosswise in half. Cut each half lengthwise into thin slices, including the thinner branches that were closest to the florets.
Cut the garlic into very thin slices. Coarsely chop the parsley leaves. Use a Microplane grater or zester to zest the lemon (to yield at least 2 teaspoons), then cut the lemon in half horizontally and squeeze out the juice (to yield 2 tablespoons).
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions, then drain and hold in a colander.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add the sliced broccoli stems and cook, turning them frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the florets and cook for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli has softened.
Add the garlic, parsley, lemon zest and toasted walnuts; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the ricotta and lemon juice, stirring to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cooked pasta and toss until well combined. Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls; serve hot.
Adapted from "Market Vegetarian," by Ross Dobson (Ryland Peters & Small, 2008).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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