9 Jul 2012

Jamie Oliver's broccoli pasta. Sort of

The universe is conspiring against me.

  • My beautiful, fully-functioning new rangehood was made in Italy.

  • MasterChef - which irritates me endlessly and I will stop watching it - is in Italy this week (I'll stop watching next week).

  • I spent oodles of time and money in one of my favourite shops, the Italian Pantry, stocking up on new pasta shapes and old favourites (and trying to distinguish between spaghetti #8 and #9).

  • I turned to my neglected Jamie Oliver '30-minute meals' for ideas and the bookmark was already in Broccoli orecchiette.

So, I busted out of my roasted veg rut (which is no bad place to be, really) to try a new pasta recipe.

This bright green sauce is essentially the tender, sweet stalks of the broccoli, blitzed up with some tangy flavours. I  never throw the stalks away anyway, but this was a new way to use them (the cooked florets were tossed thru at the end). It was quick and easy; it doesn't take much effort to throw a handful of ingredients into a food processor bowl.

The colour, emerald bright, was uplifting on such an ordinary, sunless day. And the flavours were fresh and uplifting, too. With each mouthful I got a little bit of each ingredient: the beautiful broccoli (one of my favourite vegetables), then the creamy sharpness of the parmesan, a zip of capers, and the afterglow of the chili (the aromas of the ingredients hits you as you cook the sauce, too).

If I haven't yet given you enough reasons to make this pasta sauce yourself, then here is another. This could be easily adapted to your own tastes, the season, what's in your pantry. Summertime? Add basil. Want more zing? Add spring onions and lemon zest. Don't want heat? Leave out the chili.

Finally, I used one of the new pastas I bought, a flat short pasta called 'pantacce' with pretty ruffled edges that catch the sauce beautifully (it will also be perfect with a tomato-based sauce).

Broccoli pasta sauce
Very loosely based on the recipe from Jamie Oliver's '30-minute meals'. Very loosely.
This quantity made 4 serves, so boil enough short pasta for that - JO used 500 grams orecchiette; I used 250 grams pantacce.
  • Take one big lovely head of broccoli. Cut the stalks off, taking as much as possible.
  • Steam the florets (I also steamed some brussel sprouts I wanted to use up).
  • Put the stalks in a food processor (my stalk wasn't very big, so I added a generous scoop of thawed frozen peas, and I'm glad I did).
  • Then add your flavours. I added a small teaspoon of rinsed capers, one of my small red chilis, a couple of fat cloves of garlic (JO used anchovies, too).
  • At this point, I misread the recipe and also added the half a cup of parmesan - which was supposed to be folded thru at the end. Oops!
  • Tip this paste into a medium-hot frypan with a good glug of olive oil and cook for a few minutes. Add enough hot water (and I added a slosh of wine for depth) to make a loose sauce (because my cheese was already in there, I needed a fair bit, but if you omit your cheese as you are supposed to, you may not need as much liquid. I hope I'm making sense).
  • Once the sauce is bubbling along, add your cooked pasta and steamed veg (and this is when you're supposed to add the half cup of grated parmesan!) and fold thru to coat well.
  • Bellisimo!


  1. Yum Liz, this sounds great. I have heaps of broccoli in my garden at the moment...I think I will give this a try, thanks for sharing :)

    1. Home grown broccoli would be even sweeter - how wonderful. I am very envious of you!

  2. Anonymous10 July, 2012

    Not bad for an Aussie girl :-)

    1. I know who you are :-) Aussie girl, Italian tastebuds!

  3. Saw Jamie make this recipe on tv the other night and when he put the sauce in the pan he put the end rind of Parmesan cheese into it yum yum

  4. i forget he was back on TV - have forgotten everything else on the TV as i've been caught up watching the paralympics!


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