Tuesday, 5 February 2008

calabrese or broccoli? And a calabrese recipe

calabrese floret

I was going to call this ‘Broccoli with....’ etc, but my vegbox provider calls it calabrese, so I thought I’d better educate myself. I thought the two terms were pretty much interchangeable, but there is – according to that venerable font of knowledge, Wiki – an important difference.

It transpires that broccoli is more properly the name for the sprouting stuff, whereas calabrese is the more correct term for the densely-headed green variety. So now I know. I blame years of shopping at supermarkets where it’s been labelled it ‘broccoli’. You see, not my fault at all. Really.

What I did already know, however, is that calabrese is one of life’s ‘superfoods’, packed with all things good and nutritious. Which is pretty lucky, since we eat it at least once a week here when it’s in season, and sometimes more.

This is my favourite way of using it – served with pasta, and coated with a piquant blend of anchovies, chilli and pine nuts, with some saffron to give it all an underlying dusky note (as well as an appealing golden hue to the pasta). It’s not a novel recipe by any means – you’ll find numerous variations on the internet and in recipe books – but this is my particular version.

Serves 2

500g calabrese, cut into small bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch of chilli flakes to taste
6 anchovy fillets
approx. 30 strands of saffron
2-3 tbsps olive oil
freshly grated parmesan
450g pasta – I use penne

1. Blanch the calabrese for about 3 minutes. Don’t overcook – it should still retain a healthy green colour. Drain and plunge into ice-cold water, and set aside.
2. Cook your pasta according to instructions.
2. Cover the saffron threads in hot water – about 2 to 3 tbsps.
3. Cook the garlic and chilli in olive oil for a few minutes over a low heat. Don’t let the garlic brown.
4. Add the anchovies, and stir until ‘melted’.
5. Drain the calabrese thoroughly, and add it to the anchovy sauce.
6. Turn the heat up to medium, and pour the saffron liquid over, and let most – but not all – of it bubble off.
7. When there’s still a little liquid left, add the cooked and drained pasta. This way, the pasta gets to soak up some of the saffron, and will turn a gorgeous yellow colour.
8. Add seasoning to taste, and check consistency. If it all looks a little dry, add a generous drizzle of the best quality olive oil you can lay your hands on. You want this to feel lovely in your mouth, as well as taste good. Keep the pan on the heat just long enough for the olive oil to warm through. Serve with parmesan.


calabrese with anchovies, chili, pine nuts and saffron

(Edited - I forgot the pine nuts! Aaagh! Anyway, if you like pine nuts, add 1-2 tbsps of pine nuts right at the end of cooking, when you've added the pasta to the calabrese mixture. They're great for added texture and taste - and even better if you toast them lightly beforehand.)

28 comments:

nicisme said...

That looks so vibrant, and healthy too. A great way to eat one of the 'superfoods'.

Peter M said...

Simple, yet elegant and the saffron has definitely pronounced the colour.

Broccoli lives!

Bellini Valli said...

"Broccoli by any other name would taste as sweet"...well not sweet but very tasty none the less cooked this way. See I learned something new again today. When you spoke of calabrese I thought you meant bread :)

Pixie said...

Looks like a lovely, simple and tasty BROCOLLI, I mean calabrese, dish. :)

Rosie said...

What beautiful colours and so very healthy too! Wonderful way to use "Broccoli" opps calabrese ;)

Rosie x

Nirmala said...

This looks simple and healthful. My kind of dish. Thanks for stopping by.

Nora B. said...

I never knew that! Now this is a good excuse to buy some calabrese and serve it to my partner who said that he needed a breather from broccoli. If he complains that he doesn't want any broccoli, I can say, "what broccoli? These are calabrese." heh heh heh (*evil laughter*)

I like the sound of this pasta dish. Nice, clean flavours. Perfecto!

p/s: thanks for dropping by my blog. :-)

Heather said...

Oh how I love a green crucifer. And with penne? Yes please.

Sylvie said...

They say you learn something new every day, well I just did! The meal looks great.

kittie said...

Thanks! That's a lovely dish :)
And I love getting tidbits of foodie knowledge - so thanks for that too :D

rowena said...

Ooooh...when you mention the word calabrese the first thing that always comes to mind is their 'Nduja -- love that stuff!

If there were a rating system I'd already be clicking on the 5-stars...I "heart" anchovies!

Maryann said...

What a nice blog you have started here! I like it! Thanks for visiting mine. Please don't be a stranger.
I see you are from London. My English bloke is from the Midlands:)
Your pasta dish is delicious. I like it served cold as well in the summertime. Great job!

Antonia said...

Delicious! This is my favourite way to eat it too - though I haven't tried adding saffron before. One to try next time around - thanks for the tip!

lorraine@italianfoodies said...

LOVE pasta with broccoli, never knew that about calbrese etc!! I love purple sprouting broccoli even though it is pretty hard to get it here!! Lovely pics and blog btw:)

made healthier said...

This is definitely the kind of dish I would love...especially with the 'melted' anchovies. :)

Margaret said...

This ' hits the spot' with me. The list of ingredients and the photograph are wonderful.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I'd never known of calabrese either--looks like broccoli to me! Maybe I've never had broccoli before...

The dish looks easy to prepare and tasty--can't go wrong with that!

Meghan said...

This looks so bright and colorful... a nice reminder during the winter months thats spring freshness is right around the corner!

David said...

looks simple & tasty! I love broccoli & pasta together.

Cakelaw said...

Looks like a great pasta dish for my lunch! (Although I will forget to call what I know as "broccoli", calabrese, making your greengrocer shudder!)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

You mean to tell me that all these years I could have been calling it Calabrese? That's so much more fun than broccoli.
Thanks for visiting my blog. Now I found yours, and it's quite lovely. Your photos are beautiful.

Kate / Kajal said...

a very light and healthy dish . Perfect for lunch !

eatme_delicious said...

I'm confused about broccoli now! What does the sprouting stuff look like? Hmm. I googled it but now am lost. Anyway I love that first photo - very beautiful.

Helen said...

This is also one of my favourite standby recipes and I love how everyone has their own version. For mine, I don't use pine nuts but I fry some breadcrumbs until golden and crispy and sprinkle those on top of the pasta - yum!

Aparna said...

Never knew about the calabrese/ brocolli difference. And this looks good. Maybe I'll do a vegetarian version.
Thanks for coming by my blog.

Spice Rack said...

Vegetables on pasta, herbs and spices from the healthy spice rack is always a good meal for everyone. Herbs and spice are the one who control the taste of any dishes, that is why we need to put the right mix.

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