Penne and Broccoli - off the cuff

Tonight's dinner doesn't really have a true recipe behind it. It's one of those meals that you can throw together without a lot of thought and with what you happen to have on hand. I have Pam Anderson's cookbook, "How to Cook without a Book". And, while I don't use all of her ideas on a regular basis, I do refer to it on occasion when I just want to throw something together quickly. This cookbook has some great techniques for the beginning cook, so I would recommend it to anyone just starting out. I find it's a good reference for myself when there are certain things I want to make or adjust, her tips are very helpful.

So, back to dinner, I cut up the broccoli crowns I had on hand into bite-size pieces. I had some chopped onion from earlier in the week, so my prep work was really done quickly. One tip from the cookbook is to get your pasta cooking and about 5 minutes before it should be done, toss in the broccoli and it will finish cooking at the same time as the pasta. While that's going, saute up some onion, garlic and a dash or two of red pepper flakes for a couple of minutes in a bit of EVOO... maybe 2 tablespoons at most. When you drain the pasta, save about a half cup. Toss the pasta and broccoli with the sauteed onion mixture then add the 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid. Finally, toss a 1/2 cup or so of shredded fresh Paremsan cheese. You can adjust the the seasonings and the vegetable you add according to what you have on hand. Firm vegetables will take about 5 minutes to cook with the pasta.


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