Let's Keep It Simple Silly... the rule for Bow Tie Pasta and Broccoli
16 oz. of dry bow tie pasta
16 oz. of broccoli, cut into flowerettes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and semi crushes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
The Perfect Broccoli
There is a fool proof way of cooking broccoli to perfection and it's not boiling or steaming. Both of those methods, which I have used, require that you keep a good eye on the pot, making sure that you don't overdo it, leaving the vegetable just a bit too mushy for this dish. Believe it or not, I use the microwave oven to make the perfect al dente broccoli. In a microwave dish, add the broccoli, 4 tablespoons of water, some salt and pepper, and cover with a wet paper towel. Microwave on high for 3 minutes and leave it in the micro for a few minutes before using. You will have a perfectly cooked broccoli that will not be mushy or water logged, perfect for tossing with pasta.
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium low heat. You don't want it to smoke. Now add the crushed garlic cloves and allow them to slow cook for several minutes. You want to make sure you use fresh garlic cloves for this. Once the garlic has developed a light golden color, remove it from the oil and set the pan aside. Add to the oil, the basil, salt and pepper, and stir well. You will get a lightly infused oil of garlic and basil aromas that you will toss with the bow tie pasta.
...and now the Bow Tie Pasta
In a large pot, add water to the 3/4 level and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Once water boils vigorously, add 16 oz. of pasta and bring back to a boil. Do not add oil because we want the infused olive oil to bind well to the pasta. Allow pasta to boil semi covered for about 8 minutes and then check for doneness. You want it to be al dente so that the bow ties don't break up when tossed. Pasta that is too done is just not right for this (or for any dish for that matter). If not quite done, continue boiling for another minute. Different pastas have various cooking times, i.e., bow tie will cook faster than large penne, angel hair cooks quicker than linguini. Be sure to stir the pasta around while boiling so that nothing sticks to the bottom. When done, drain the pasta, but DO NOT RINSE! Rinsing takes the starch coating off the pasta and will not allow the olive oil to coat or adhere well.
Putting It All Together
In a large bowl, add the pasta, then the broccoli, crushed black pepper, and finally drizzle the infused olive oil over the top. Toss gently and taste for flavor. Add a bit more salt and pepper if you need. If you want, add some grated Parm or Gruyere and toss again. If you like, you may also toss a couple of tablespoons of melted butter for added richness. Serve hot.
A variation of this is to add sauteed mushrooms instead of broccoli. The flavors are wonderful and simply add a whole new element to the flavors. For you meat eaters out there, this variation works incredible with a nice pan fried Filet of Beef or Sirloin. Clense the palette before dessert with a nice tossed salad of mixed baby greens in a light olive oil and rice vinegar dressing.