"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Whole Wheat Penne with Masses of Broccoli, Green Olives, and Almonds

For my 24th rotation around the sun I prepared a feast for my closest friends that included tomato and herb cheese bruschetta, a fruit bruschetta, a huge salad, this big pasta dish, a wonderful birthday cake, and a tantric chocolate pie (recipe coming soon). My good friend gave me this fabulous cookbook, Vegetarian Suppers, by Deborah Madison and I had found this delightful recipe for a simple penne pasta with broccoli that I slightly modified for my birthday feast. I went to the farmers market on Saturday morning and was able to get my hands on some sweet fresh dark green broccoli for this dish. I didn't add any cheese but I put a chunk of Parmesan on the table for people to help themselves.
I love cooking for my friends - they are so nice about allowing me to take tons of pictures before letting them actually start eating. I try to be fast about the picture taking so the food doesn't go cold but it's not always easy to quickly get a good picture. I like this one of the table setting:
Whole Wheat Penne with Masses of Broccoli, Green Olives, and Almonds
(Serves 8 generously)

2 large onions, diced
Olive oil
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup almond slivers
1 1/2 cups pitted green olives, torn apart
2/3 cup oregano
1 cup raisins
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 lbs broccoli, cut into small florets, stems peeled and diced
1 1/2 lbs whole wheat penne
A chunk of Parmesan for the table

1. Heat olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes - until they are golden.
2. Add the garlic, almonds, olives, oregano, and raisins and turn the heat to a low setting. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a dash of salt, throw in the broccoli florets and stems and cook just until tender but so that they retain bite - about 5 minutes. Scoop them out and add them to the pan with the onion mixture with a little bit of the water.
4. Add the pasta to the boiling water. When it is cooked drain it and return it to the pot. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide among the pasta bowls and add the vegetable topping in generous amounts on top.

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