Whole Wheat Penne with Broccoli, Parmesan and White Wine

I love a pasta dish that’s simple but tasty. Forget the anchovy paste and fancy fresh herbs – this is a week night dinner that LITERALLY comes together in the time it takes your pasta to cook – what, 11 minutes?

My version of the “noodles with butter and salt” that you might have enjoyed (demanded) as a kid was called “Pasta Aglio e Olio”. It was spaghetti noodles with garlic and olive oil and it’s still one of my very favorite dishes. It’s like vanilla ice cream in the dessert world – often overlooked, extremely simple, but innocently delectable. Perfectly plain. I’m getting off topic – basically what I’m trying to say is that simple is good sometimes. This dish costs just a few dollars to throw together but is tasty, healthy, and satisfying for a week night. You can make this on the nights when you think you’ve run out of food. I’d be willing to bet you could scrounge up some frozen broccoli in the freezer.

Also, this same dish would work with a number of different veggies – bell peppers, asparagus, spinach (any leafy green), zucchini, leeks, or cherry tomatoes. This could be the meal that you pull out of your kitchen like a chef version of Mary Poppins. Lastly, about the serving size. My husband had a huge plate and seconds, I had a pretty big plate, and I cut some up for my daughter. We still had some leftover – maybe not a whole serving but enough to save. If making for 4 hungry people, I might double it or 1 1/2 the recipe.

Whole Wheat Penne with Broccoli, Parmesan and White Wine

Serves 2-4 (2 very hungry people will have some left over)

8 oz. whole wheat penne, 2 tsp. salt for the water

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

4 c. broccoli, steamed (or frozen broccoli, thawed)*

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 c. reserved pasta water

1/4 c. dry white wine

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Cheese for serving

*To steam fresh broccoli, place florets in a large glass bowl with 2-3 tbsp. water at the bottom. Place a plate on top. Microwave for about 5 minutes or until bright green and tender. If using frozen broccoli, just microwave, covered with a plate (no water), for about 3-4 minutes or until thawed. 

1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add 2 tsp. salt. Add pasta and boil until al dente (still a slight firmness inside). RESERVE 1/2 c. pasta water. Drain pasta. The only way to tell if pasta is where you want it is to taste it! Don’t throw it against any walls – especially penne as it would just bounce off and fall on the floor. 

2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and garlic and saute just 30 seconds or until fragrant (don’t let it turn brown!).

3. Add broccoli, pasta, reserved pasta water, white wine, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Toss together and let cook for 3-5 minutes or until liquid begins to thicken slightly and all ingredients are hot.

4. Remove from heat and add cheese. Toss to combine.

5. Plate and top with cheese. Serve.


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