Orecchiette with Broccolette, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Red Beans
I got hooked on farmer market probably about four years ago. I moved to a teeny town that had a buzzing farmer market in the summer and a visit there became a therapeutic ritual for me every Saturday morning. While the selection was limited, I was still mesmerized by the variety of veggies that were grown locally. I really loved not having an idea of what I would be able to find that weekend from the market. Now I always jump at the opportunity to try new vegetables, especially if I had never cooked them before. I found these sour cherries (still haven’t been able to find them anymore after that year!), cippolini onions, beets, and brussel sprouts in the past years.
I have since then always jumped at the chance of trying new vegetables. This year, I found “Broccolette”, which is a cross between broccoli and Chinese Kale. It has the flowers like regular broccoli but the long thin stalks of almost-like asparagus. I was excited to try them, and found this versatile recipe that can use any vegetable in the broccoli-family. This vegetarian pasta dish is light, vegetarian, yet satisfying especially with the addition of beans. It is also can be served warm or room-temperature. I thought about adding grilled chicken, which I thought would be excellent as well.
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch broccolette, I used about 1 lb, leaves removed, tough stems removed (broccoli, broccoli rabe, broccolini – all will work)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), or 1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 12 pieces), sliced
1 (15-ounce) can red beans, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water and drain pasta thoroughly. Meanwhile, if using sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil, soak tomatoes in 1 cup boiling water 10 minutes. Drain and slice.
In a large sauté pan over high heat, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add broccolette and sauté until lightly wilted but not brown, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, you can also opt to blanch them quickly before stir-frying, like I did, which will soften then broccolette. Add sun-dried tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper and toss lightly.
Add hot drained pasta to the pan (or to a larger bowl if needed) and toss with the vegetables. Stir and add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water if mixture seems dry. Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.
Yield: 3-4 servings
Slightly adapted from Whole Foods