Broccoli and pasta and how to make it work

I love to make things that I don’t have to think about, and I hate it when I make something that I don’t have to think about, and it comes out tasting like I should have thought about it. For a while now I have been hooked on pasta and broccoli made by cooking the pasta, and right before the pasta is done, throwing the broccoli into the same pan. On the side I have a pan of olive oil, chopped garlic, fried basil, pepperoncino and lemon zest, and when the pasta and broccoli are done, I drain them, reserve a little of the liquid on the side, drop the noodles and broccoli into the olive oil and toss them around with a few drops of the reserved pasta water, tasting for salt and black pepper. Grate in the cheese and it’s done. Except last night it came out tasting like heated up leftovers. The noodles were oily and the broccoli was wet and I had to control myself from sweeping the whole thing off the table, and thowing it under the sink and starting from the beginning. I would have, except I am trying to teach Ferdinand to let things roll off his shoulders and go with the flow and not get all worked up into freight train of a frenzy when something doesn’t go his way. And so when Jonathan said “I don’t think I can eat these olives that you put in here; do you think it intensifies their flavor when you saute them?”, I answered, “gee, I don’t know honey”.
(Flavor is intensified by direct heat, but it was not the time to answer; I was self torturing myself about why then didn’t the broccoli intensify from the direct heat? Why was it soggy and lifeless even after draining and tossing and letting it sit in the pan with all of that flavorfull stuff; I knew there was just so much I could talk about it and still keep up my happy kind of relaxed person model.) The truth is, I don’t think that cooking method is entirely dependable. I think that you have to cook the broccoli (one head of just the tops) separately, which you could do easily enough in the salted water, before you put the pasta in, and get it out before the pasta hits the water. Take the broccoli out when it is still green and just a bit of a bite left to it, with a slotted spoon or colander. Drain super well and let it rest on a clean towel to absorb all the extra liquid in. Get your pan going with 5 cloves of chopped garlic, a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes, a few torn leaves of basil and your best olive oil. Add the broccoli once the garlic is golden, with salt to taste and toss it around until it tastes delicious. Turn off the heat. Get the pasta cooked, on its own, but in the same pan of water that the broccoli cooked in. Drain well and toss with the broccoli. If you like a good Romano, it’s excellent with this. You can also add the olives, on or off the heat (if you like olives and you don’t think that they will cause you any undue stress.)
You can also add a few few anchovies (packed in salt are best; rinse before using) to the garlic getting golden in the pan before the broccoli goes in, but just two or three.
Or, (and now we are talking about a whole different dish), you can have a pan of hot chicken stock on the stove that you add to the broccoli and garlic a ladeful at a time, stirring every once in a while, and keeping on with the stock until the broccoli becomes a mush and has not bite left to it whatsoever–more of a broccoli sauce. It takes about thirty minutes. You add a nob of butter when it comes off the heat and a big handful of finely grated parmesan cheese.

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