This recipe relies on cooking the broccoli twice – firstly, a quick, straightforward boil, followed by a low and slow simmer to turn it into a creamy, broken down and beautifully green sauce. The chilli should be a subtle, warming heat, so don’t go overboard unless you want it particularly fiery. Top with a few crispy breadcrumbs and a little Parmesan. Sometimes I stir some fresh parsley through as well, but it doesn’t strictly need it. This is a “store cupboard special”, where you’re likely to have most of the ingredients already to hand. I used gigli pasta for this, but orechiette and tagliatelle also work well.
Use good quality extra-virgin olive oil, as the flavour will come through.
Serves 2-3 as a main course, or 4 as a starter
To make your breadcrumbs, preheat your oven to 200°C. Place the slice of bread in the oven for 12-15 minutes until it is very dry and pale golden – you want it to be very crispy but not burnt. Blitz in a food processor into crumbs (not too fine), and spread them out to dry on a plate or baking tray for maximum crispiness whilst you cook the broccoli.
Chop the broccoli into florets, keeping as much of the stalk as you can. Boil the broccoli in a medium saucepan of salted water for roughly 6 minutes, until a knife can easily pierce the broccoli stalks. Drain the water but don’t throw it away, and set it to one side. Allow the broccoli to cool, and then finely chop.
In a medium sized saucepan, heat a generous glug of olive oil over a low heat. Fry the garlic with the chilli flakes for a couple of minutes (I use three cloves, but use 1-2 for a more subtle flavour). Add the anchovies (again, adapt to taste – use two for a milder flavour) and fry them until they have melted. Add the chopped broccoli, put a lid on the pan, and leave it to cook down for 30 minutes. Add a tablespoon of the broccoli water if it starts to stick, and stir occasionally.
Remove the lid, and turn up the heat to medium for a further 5 minutes. Add a generous glug of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to prevent from sticking, and to break up any remaining lumps.
Cook your pasta according to its instructions. Drain (keep a little of the water back), and stir the pasta through the broccoli sauce. Add a tablespoon or two of the pasta water if you want to thin the sauce out a little. You can also add a little fresh chopped parsley if you like, or simply leave it plain. Top with grated Parmesan and sourdough breadcrumbs, drizzle each portion with olive oil, and serve immediately.