Monday, April 20, 2009

Penne in cream of broccoli

This dish sort of embodies the way I think of Spring - fresh, delicate, and of course, very green!

I rarely have cream or milk in the house, so I don't make things like this very often. In fact, the only times I have cream are when I need it for some special dessert I'm making. As it happens, my aunt had requested last week that I re-bake the superbly scrumptious caramel cake from November's Daring Baker's Challenge for her birthday, and so I did have both cream and milk on hand (the cake requires a few spoonfuls of cream and a cup of milk).

This situation required some creative thinking on my part to figure out how to use the remaining cream. I used up a fair portion in a lovely kiwi strawberry mousse, but I still had more than enough for the cream of broccoli sauce, which only requires a couple spoonfuls. Ideally, you would use "panna di cucina" or cooking cream, but I don't know if you can get that here. Panna di cucina has less fat than heavy whipping cream, so it is more suitable for savory dishes where you just want a creamy sauce. Panna di cucina has about 21% fat, while heavy whipping cream is more like 35% fat. In order to achieve the right consistency, I mixed a few spoonfuls of heavy cream with a few spoonfuls of milk, which seemed to work fine.

75 g. penne per person
1 bunch of fresh broccoli
About half a cup of cooking cream, or a mixture of half heavy cream + half whole milk
A couple gloves of garlic
Olive oil
Pecorino sardo or romano

Wash the broccoli thoroughly and divide it into florets. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, and then add the broccoli. Let the broccoli cook about 10 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon, and let cool.

Put the penne right into the broccoli water to cook, adding more water or salt if necessary. Meanwhile, peel and crush the garlic cloves, and heat some olive oil in a large sauté pan.

When the olive oil is hot, add the garlic. Let cook a minute or so, and then add the broccoli. Let the broccoli cook about 5 minutes, then turn heat down to low, and add the cream/milk + cream mixture. Cover the pan, and let cook another few minutes. Remove cover, and mash up the broccoli with a potato masher. You can do this right in the pan (I love when I can make these things without using a food processor, as I do not have one). Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, cover and let simmer some more.

When the penne are done, drain them, add them to the cream of broccoli, and mix everything up well to coat the penne. Turn off heat, and spoon into serving bowls. Cover with a generous heaping of grated pecorino, and eat warm.

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