Friday, September 2, 2011

Pasta with Spicy Broccoli and Cauliflower

Ever since I got the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, I've been meaning to cook something out of it - but although the recipes are all tempting, I somehow never got around to it!  I finally managed to break the ice with this delicious pasta dish. I made it for our first "house dinner" of the year with my new housemates (as well as the ones who stuck around from last year, of course).  Although it contains various ingredients that are semi-questionable to picky eaters - broccoli, anchovies, and olives - everyone really enjoyed it.  I like how all the veggies get caramelized, and how the anchovies and olives add little bursts of salty flavor.  If you're not so sure about anchovies, do try this recipe - you absolutely cannot taste them specifically, but they add something a little special.  If you want your pasta really spicy, you should definitely add more red pepper flakes - this amount was just slightly spicy.  The lemon wasn't in the original recipe, but after tasting the pasta, a hit of acid was just what it needed.  Overall, I really loved this recipe and I look forward to my next Zuni Cafe endeavor!  I served this with carrot-cumin salad with feta cheese, a pairing I highly recommend (you can prep the salad first and stash it in the fridge until the pasta is ready).

Pasta with Spicy Broccoli and Cauliflower (adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook)
Serves 6

Olive oil
18 ounces broccoli, trimmed, with a few inches of stem intact
18 ounces cauliflower, leaves removed and stem end trimmed
1 small head fennel, trimmed and cored
Sea salt
1-1/2 T capers, rinsed, pressed dry, and coarsely chopped
1-1/2 pounds pasta
1-1/2 T chopped anchovy fillets
6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly pounded in a mortar
8 pinches dried chili flakes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted black olives
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon

1. Slice the broccoli, cauliflower, and fennel about 1/8-inch thick.  Don't worry about small pieces that crumble off or if the slices are slightly uneven - just save everything.
2. Heat two large non-stick skillets over medium heat.  Also put a big pot of water on a burner over high heat and bring to a boil.
3. Add a generous amount of oil to cover the bottom of both skillets.  Add most of the broccoli, cauliflower, and fennel, leaving behind the smaller crumby bits.  Let the veggies cook until the edges brown a bit, about three minutes.  Salt lightly, and stir gently.  Add a bit more oil and scrape the remaining veggies into the pan.  Add the capers and stir gently.  Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally - be sure to allow the veggies to sit a good amount of the time so they can get brown and crispy.
4. Meanwhile, once the pasta boils, add a generous amount of salt along with the pasta.  Cook until al dente, drain, and then return to the pot.
5. Once the veggies have shrunk by about a third and are browned and mostly tender, combine them in one skillet.  Reduce the heat, add a bit more oil, and scatter over the anchovies, garlic, fennel seeds, and chili flakes.  Stir everything until evenly distributed and cook for another few minutes.  Add the parsley and olives, toss, and then taste - adjust for any ingredients that need a stronger flavor.
6. Toss together the veggies and the pasta.  Squeeze the lemon juice over and toss to combine.  Serve right away.


  1. Congrats on finally making a dish from that cookbook! Glad it was a success.

  2. That looks delicious. I agree that anchovies add flavor instead of fishy stuff.. :) I was afraid to use it the first time until I tried it in a pasta dish (from Jamie Oliver) and loved it. So anchovies is now a staple in my kitchen. Great dish!