This week I got a big bunch of fresh basil in the farm box. Fresh basil in October? I’ll take it. I used some of it to make a quick pesto to eat on Portobello mushroom “burgers” last night. I used the rest to make my favorite quick pasta dish: pasta with broccoli, feta and basil.
This is almost a non-recipe.
1) You put your pasta water on to boil
2) You get out a box of pasta — I like short pastas with this: farfalle, fusilli or penne. I use half a pound for two people because I like leftovers and because when we eat this pasta we eat it as a one-bowl meal.
3) While the water heats and the pasta cooks, wash and chop your broccoli into bite-sized pieces. How much broccoli? I can’t tell you that. How much do you have? How much do you like broccoli?
4) Crumble some feta cheese into a large serving bowl or two individual pasta bowls (You can make this for one, too — just use less of everything). I’m going to say four ounces of feta for two people, but if you want to use more, use more. The more cheese, the better it is, really.
5) Squeeze the juice of one or two lemons over your cheese.
6) Grind some black pepper over the cheese if you like pepper.
7) Do a quick chiffonade of basil leaves into the cheese.
8) Throw your chopped broccoli into the pasta water in the last minute of the pasta’s cooking. Cook one minute only.
9) Drain pasta and broccoli
10) Toss with feta and basil mixture, or put in individual bowls and stir like mad with a fork to distribute cheese. The cheese melts a little on the warm pasta, releasing the perfume of the basil.
Food Notes: This is best to eat in late spring and early fall, whenever you have the intersection of fresh basil and broccoli and lemons, but I make it in deep winter, too, substituting dried oregano and red wine vinegar for the basil and lemons. It’s good with roasted red peppers or bits of sun-dried tomatoes added to it, too, which add color contrast and winter vitamins. I make this pasta with fresh green beans if I don’t have broccoli — that’s good, but the broccoli version is better. What you don’t need is any salt or olive oil: feta is plenty salty on its own and provides enough fat. Keep it simple.
This is really good made with whole wheat pasta, too, which I buy whenever I find it on sale.
Please come back on Friday for a Halloween surprise.