Elbow Macaroni With Crispy Breadcrumbs and Broccoli

by Hilary Gauntt on April 13, 2016

When I spotted this recipe I immediately thought of my grandsons, age 3 & 5, and how this might be something I could get them to eat! I tried it out first on grownups, and the appeal doesn’t stop with the little macaroni fans; we loved it.

Any short pasta will work, and the crunchy breadcrumbs, garlic, red pepper and Parmesan make this dish sing. I like to keep my broccoli with a little crunch left, but cook it longer if you wish. Great vegetarian main dish (although I served it with pork chops baked in my favorite barbecue sauce which was a perfect match!)

Kosher salt

6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Finely grated zest of one lemon

2 Tbs. chopped fresh Italian parsley

3 cups elbow macaroni (about 12 ounces)

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 Tbs.olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs and toast, stirring constantly, until they are crisp and golden, 4 to 5 minutes, taking care not to let them burn. Scrape into a small bowl and toss with the lemon zest and parsley and then season with salt.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions until al dente while you make the sauce. Wipe out the skillet used to toast the breadcrumbs and return it to medium high heat. Add the remaining 4 Tbs. of olive oil and, when the oil is hot, add the broccoli and toss to coat. Saute until it turns bright green, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute, then pour in the stock. Simmer until the broccoli is tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

When the pasta is done, scoop it out of the water with a spider or small strainer and add directly to the sauce, reserving the pasta water. Simmer the pasta with the sauce just to blend the flavors, 1 to 2 minutes more, then drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and toss again.

If the sauce seems dry, add up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Off the heat, stir in the cheese. Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.


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