Monday, August 6, 2007

The Quiet Mastery of Sara Moulton: Pasta with Broccoli and Chickpeas

I’ve been leaning a bit heavily on the Food Network lately, but I find lots of their dishes strike a nice balance between AllRecipes and Epicurious. They’re not laden with lard (Paula Deen’s excepted), most aren’t terribly complicated (Mario Batali’s excepted), and it’s easy to navigate around Sandra Lee concoctions (Kwanzaa cake excepted. It must be studied so history never duplicates its lunacy.)

Though she’s not on-air anymore (reruns excepted), Sara Moulton is a good example why the site is so valuable. Her food is a lot like her personality: competent, comforting, and quietly, wickedly neat. Simple, filling, and tasty as all get out, Orecchiette (er, Macaroni) with Broccoli and Chickpeas is a good example of her virtuosity.

This is 1-1/2 times the original recipe (but with ½ the olive oil), since I don’t like having half-cans of chickpeas or diced tomatoes lying around. I use everything but the cheese, too, since I can’t justify a buying a hunk of romano right now. As an added bonus, the dish tastes great cold, and is a godsend for lunch the next day.

Sara Moulton’s Orecchiette (er, Macaroni) with Broccoli and Chickpeas
4 servings - 1-3/4 cups each
Adapted from Sara Moulton.

1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 Tbsp salt, plus more to taste
1-1/2 generous cup broccoli florets
6 ounces orecchiette or elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons minced yellow onion, optional
1-1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 14.5 oz. can diced plum tomatoes, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated pecorino, for serving, optional

1) In a small bowl, stir chickpeas with a tiny bit of olive oil. Let sit.

2) Fill a medium bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes. Set aside.

2) Get out a large pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Add salt. Add broccoli and cook about 4 minutes, until it's crisp-tender, but not soft. Pick up broccoli with tongs or a slotted spoon and drop into ice bath. After a few minutes, drain the ice bath and set broccoli aside.

3) While broccoli is cooling, add pasta to still-boiling pot of broccoli water and cook. When finished, drain pasta and set aside.

4) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet (nonstick, if you can) over medium heat. If using onion, add it and cook about 8 minutes, until soft. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and chickpeas and cook until heated, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and broccoli and warm through. Salt and pepper to taste.

4) Add pasta and it to the broccoli-tomato mixture and heat through. Serve sprinkled with pecorino.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
324 calories, 7.8 g fat, $0.93

Calculations
1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained: 350 calories, 7 g fat, $0.50
1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil: 180 calories, 21 g fat, $0.12
1 Tbsp salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.06
1-1/2 generous cups broccoli florets or broccoli rabe: 30 calories, 0 g fat, $1.20
6 ounces orecchiette (I sub in macaroni): 630 calories, 3 g fat, $0.19
6 tablespoons minced yellow onion: 15 calories, 0 g fat, $0.13
1-1/2 tablespoon minced garlic: 15 calories, 0 g fat, $0.15
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes: negligible calories and fat, $0.15
1 14.5 oz. can diced canned plum tomatoes: 75 calories, 0 g fat, $1.19
Freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
TOTAL: 1295 calories, 31 g fat, $3.70
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 324 calories, 7.8 g fat, $0.93
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3 comments:

Christina Havens said...

This sounds pretty good. I am going to make it this week and see how it blows over with my 3 and 4 year old, hopefully they don't pick out the macaroni and only eat that,lol.
Thanks!
Christina

Christina Havens said...

This sounds pretty good. I am going to make it this week and see how it blows over with my 3 and 4 year old, hopefully they don't pick out the macaroni and only eat that,lol.
Thanks!
Christina

Anonymous said...

Cheap, easy, I already owned all the ingredients, and pretty good! I altered a few things, though. I used leftover steam-in-a-bag broccoli and parmesan cheese. I also subbed canola oil for pretty much everything since olive oil's a little pricey for regular use on a college student budget. However, I added WAAAAAY too much of the red pepper flakes. It's spicy by my standards, and I have super high spice tolerance. I'm sort of worried for my roommate now, since when I left I said she could have some, but she likes her food kind of bland...