I have a shelf full of cookbooks, but the reality is that I only use about 10% of them on a regular basis.
Now that I’m blogging, many of the new recipes I try are the ones I find on other people’s blogs. And if I’m looking through my cookbook cupboard, most of the time I pull out one of my favourites (Barefoot Contessa, Bonnie Stern) to look for a recipe.
So why do I have so many other cookbooks that I can't bear to part with? I couldn't get rid of the first cookbook I ever bought for myself. I bought a copy of Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest after I'd been at a friend's house who cooked from it. And The Penny Whistle Birthday Party Book will stay on my shelf as long as I'm cooking. The girls and I used to leaf though it together in advance of every birthday party, looking for a theme and food to go with it. It's probably the most loved of all my cookbooks, with a torn cover and dog-eared pages to prove it.
Despite my affection for the cookbooks I own, I still like it when I find a new cookbook that I fall in love with. And that’s why it was great to come across The Fresh & Green Table. I’ve tried three recipes so far and loved them all, and I have many more marked to try. Last week’s frittata was from this book too. All of her recipes are full of vegetables, and full of flavour. Is there anything better than finding a recipe that’s delicious, and healthy too?
Pasta with Broccoli, Sun-dried tomatoes and Goat Cheese
(from The Fresh and Green Table, by Susie Middleton)
1/2 lb (225 g) cavatappi, straccetti or rotini (I couldn’t find cavatappi, but any spiral or corkscrew pasta should do)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (first amount)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (second amount)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound small broccoli florets (approximately 4 crowns), each cut into pieces about 1” long and 3/4” wide
1/2 cup thinly sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
2 oz (55 grams) goat cheese, crumbled while still cold
1/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put a colander in the sink and place a glass liquid measure next to it. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Take the pot off the heat and, before draining the pasta, pour about 2/3 cup of the pasta water into the glass measure. Drain the pasta in the colander and let it sit, loosely covered with foil or a pot lid.
Have ready a small heatproof bowl near the stove. In a large nonstick stir-fry pan, heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to simmer in the oil. Cook for just about 30 seconds more to infuse the oil. (Do not let the garlic brown.) Pour and scrape the seasoned oil into the heatproof bowl and reserve. Wipe the pan out with a paper towel.
Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, and raise the heat to medium high. When the oil is hot, add the broccoli and 1 tsp salt and stir well. The pan will seem crowded and the broccoli may look dry, but the broccoli will shrink and give off moisture as it cooks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli has shrunk (it will mostly fit in a single layer in the pan) and the florets have turned bright green, about 10 minutes.
Measure out 1/3 cup of the pasta water and pour it into the stir-fry pan. Quickly add the sun-dried tomatoes. Then cover the pan briefly and continue cooking until the water has simmered down to almost nothing (about 15 to 20 seconds). Uncover and remove the pan from the heat.
Add the drained pasta to the pan, season it with 1/4 tsp salt, and drizzle it with all the reserved garlic-red pepper oil. Stir briefly. Add the goat cheese and most of the Parmigiano and stir until everything is well distributed. Add another 1 to 2 Tbsp pasta water and stir again until the goat cheese loosens up a bit and gets creamier. Add another 1 to 2 Tbsp pasta water, if necessary.
Serve right away, garnished with the remaining Parmigiano.
(By the way, this cookbook recommendation is a completely independent opinion. I picked up the cookbook on my own and haven’t been reimbursed or gifted by the author or publisher, nor do I know them. I just like telling people about things that I love.)