The Tastiest Pasta with Broccoli

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Aside from being English teachers the team at gainEnglish are also very keen cooks! So, we thought why not put some of our favourite personal recipes on the blog for our students and friends to have a go at. Most of the recipes will either be Italian or British, since that’s where we all come from and live. If you are Italian and you are already familiar with the Italian dishes, you can still use the recipes to improve your English.

This recipe may seem a little unusual for any non-Italians, but it’s really lovely, and it’s even better re-fried the following day!

Pasta ai broccoli (Pasta with broccoli)

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

A large head of broccoli (about 700g)

30g capers (we prefer to use capers preserved in salt rather than in vinegar)

4 anchovy fillets (preserved in olive oil)

3 garlic cloves

1 dried red chilli (or a sprinkling of chilli flakes)

350g short pasta (fusilli, penne rigate, tortiglioni)

Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Wash the broccoli, divide into florets, drop into boiling water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Yes, this is a long time to cook broccoli for, but they need to be softer than you would normally eat them. After 10 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the broccoli from the water, leave to cool for a little while. Preserve the water for cooking the pasta later.
  2. Wash the salt off the capers and finely chop them.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and cut them in half.
  4. Add around 50ml of olive oil to a large non stick frying pan and put it on a low heat, add the garlic, anchovies, capers and dried chilli. Allow the oil to infuse for about 5 minutes (or longer as long as it’s on a low heat and the garlic doesn’t burn), stir from time to time to help the anchovies disintegrate into the oil.
  5. While the oil is infusing, chop the broccoli into small pieces. Once the oil is nicely infused throw your broccoli into the pan and increase the heat to medium. Stir and mix well to ensure the broccoli is all covered with the oil, capers, etc. Add a little more oil if you think necessary. You shouldn’t need to add any salt because the anchovies and capers are already salty.
  6. Once the broccoli starts sizzling, cover and cook like this for 20/30 minutes. Stir regularly and turn the heat down if they are frying to hard.  Towards the end of the cooking time remove the pieces of garlic and the chilli.
  7. With 15 minutes to go before the broccoli is ready, you can get started on the pasta.  Bring the previously saved broccoli water back to the boil, use a good quality pasta, follow the instructions on the packet (make sure you boil and salt the water before adding the pasta). It’s normally a good idea to cook the pasta for 30/45 seconds less than the packet says, because the pasta will continue cooking as you mix it with the warm broccoli. Always taste test to make sure it’s al dente. Just before you drain the pasta, take a cup and collect some of the pasta cooking water, keep to one side as you may use this later.
  8. Drain the pasta and throw it in with the broccoli. Turn the heat off, add a splash of olive oil (or even better chilli olive oil) mix together well. If you feel the mixture is a little dry for your taste, add a few splashes of the pasta cooking water and mix again.

Serve and ENJOY!

ps. If you make too much it’s great re-heated the next day.  Just put a non-stick frying pan on a high heat, add a splash of chilli oil, once it’s hot enough throw your leftovers in and fry the pasta, stirring regularly to make sure they don’t burn.  Should be ready in about 8-10 minutes. You are looking to slightly brown the pasta and if you get it just right it’ll be even more delicious than it was the day before!

Keen – enthusiastic

Floret – small part of a flower shaped vegetable

To drain – allow liquid to run off or away from something to leave it dry

To infuse – allow a substance to transfer its flavour to a liquid

From time to time – occasionally

To sizzle – make a hissing sound while frying

Leftovers – Food that remains from the previous day


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