Here are more thoughts on following recipes …
As broccoli cooks it starts to give off a sulphury smell which is not pleasant. I usually suggest you cook broccoli for just a few minutes and to get it drained before this change takes place. But in this dish of Broken Broccoli I want the broccoli to be tender enough so that it can be squashed a little with a fork so the flavours of oil, garlic, parmesan and nutmeg really get through it, rather than sitting on top as a coating. I’ve based it on a Sicilian broccoli sauce for pasta, a recipe handed down to me from our Sicilian aunt Zia Flavia. In this case, the broccoli is cooked until it is truly fork tender, and it smells worse, but at the end the smell is gone and the taste is spectacularly good. Back to the bay leaves … adding bay leaves to the water helps deaden the stinky smell, adding a sweetly scented spicy aroma to the air. The flavour doesn’t detract from anything in the dish, so it is worth doing. Of course, opening a window helps as well.
If you want to make Zia Flavia’s smothered broccoli sauce for pasta, cook the broccoli until very tender, so that it can be squashed easily with a fork. Drain it into a colander set over a bowl; reserve the cooking water (don’t forget this point!). Sizzle two finely chopped onions in 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until gorgeously golden and sweet (do this slowly so you develop sweetness without burning), add a couple of cloves of crushed (minced) garlic, then a handful of pine nuts, a tablespoon of sultanas and 2 anchovies in oil crushed to a paste. Add a few strands of saffron soaked in warm water (optional) and the broccoli. Squish it all down in the pan, bring it to a bubble, then lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook gently for 20-30 minutes, adding a little reserved cooking liquid from time to time to keep it loose. It should be like a thick green lumpy-ish cream. Meanwhile, cook 400-500g chunky pasta, drain and add to broccoli in pan. Toss and serve in the pan.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com