I know this is not really anything at all like carbonara, but I just couldn’t come up with a good name for this dish. Eggy Broccoli Pasta just sounded stupid, kind of like something you’d find in a c. 1978 community cookbook. Pasta with Broccoli didn’t really give the eggs any credit. Since it had eggs in it, added raw at the end, the carbonara tag just kept bouncing through my brain. Not quite carbonara I know. But carbonara-ish.
And to answer your questions before they come: No. I did not eliminate the cured meat portion of this recipe due to the totally blown out of proportion report on the supposed dangers of consuming things like bacon and hotdogs in huge quantities. I fully intend to continue to eat things like pancetta and guanciale, in small, normal sized portions, on special occasions, as I – and most Italians – have always done.
No. My pork-less version of carbonara was due to the sad fact was that we were up in Todi and the slab of pancetta I had fully intended to bring up for the weekend was left on the top shelf of my refrigerator in Rome.
But still, those fresh eggs from my neighbor Marisa were just calling out to be eaten and since it was Sunday lunch, pasta seemed not only necessary, but unavoidable.
So I came up with this recipe. The broccoli florets get chopped very finely, so that they can be sauteed, in a big pan, cooking rather quickly and browned nicely. This browning is the step that is important to follow and gives the dish a richness that you’d otherwise expect from the addition of pork. (well, not quite, but close enough)
The rest of the dish is pretty straight forward, and comes together more-or-less like carbonara. Egg yolks get beaten with grated cheese (I used a local variant of parmigiano) and get tossed with the pasta and broccoli at the last minute.
Whenever I make pasta that is ‘sauced’ with vegetables, I tend to go for a complicated shape that grabs and holds the small bits and pieces of veggie. Wheels and Spirals are favorites. But this time around I had a pack of Cannolicchi, tight little corkscrews that caught and held the bits of broccoli and egg/cheese mixture perfectly. Any shape will do, but better to go with something complicated (and fun), rather that smooth (and boring).
And if you want to add pancetta or guanciale to the dish that’s fine with me. I won’t tell anyone.
- ½ kilo / 1 pound pasta
- 2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets (only the top bits, save the stems for something else)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
- ⅓ cup white wine
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan or mild pecorino (plus more for serving)
- Separate the broccoli florets from the stems. Set the stems aside for another use. Chop the florets very finely, almost like a hash.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold all the pasta at the end. Add the onions , salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped broccoli and stir well to coat. Add about ¾ cup of water, and stir. Let the broccoli cook until very tender. You may have to add more water. Once the broccoli is done, turn up the heat and boil away any remaining water. Let the broccoli brown well stirring every so often. Don’t worry if some sticks to the pan. You want to let at least some of it caramelize. Add the white wine, to deglaze, let cook off.
- Turn off the heat.
- Place the grated cheese in a serving bowl, and add the egg yolks. Stir to blend, adding a bit more freshly grated pepper.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until about 2 minutes from being al dente. In the meantime, reheat the pan with the broccoli, and add a bit of the pasta cooking water to deglaze the pan of the browned broccoli bits.
- When the pasta is 2 minutes from being done, drain, but keep at least 3 cups of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan with the broccoli, to finish cooking, adding some of the water. When the pasta is done, add it to the bowl with the egg mixture and stir well. If it seems too dry, add some more of the pasta water.
- Serve topped with extra cheese.
The pack of pasta, Canolicchi made by Rustichella d’Abruzzo, was given to be as a gift while I was on a press trip to see how pasta is made by Rustichella in Abruzzo. For more information about the trip see this post. The press trip was sponsored by Rustichella d’Abruzzo and I was invited by Manicaretti Importers.