Broccoli Shells + Cheese
Why we love it:
- 1 package Shells Pasta (I like medium size)
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (maybe more for pasta)
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- 2 pounds Broccoli
- 8 ounces Mozzarella (shredded) (or a firm block)
- 3 ounces Parmesan Cheese
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Nutmeg (freshly ground)
- 1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 cup Half & Half
- 1 Cucumber
- 3 Carrots
1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400 DEGREES
2. BRING A LARGE POT OF WATER TO A BOIL
Add most of a tablespoon of salt. For pasta, make the water taste like the ocean. When ready, cook the pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain it.
3. ONION + GARLIC
Thinly slice the yellow onion into half-moons if you like onion. If you dislike seeing onions in the final dish, you can finely dice it. Mince the garlic.
Get a large sauté pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté while you chop the broccoli.
Chop the florets off and set aside. Remove the very bottom of the stem, and use a vegetable peeler on the main stalk. Dice the stalk into a large dice. Add the stalk to the onions. Sauté for about 4 minutes. Chop the florets into smaller sizes if needed, nothing much bigger than a pasta shell. Add to the pot.
Add the reserved ½ cup of pasta water to the broccoli (if you haven’t yet drained the pasta, just scoop ½ cup water off the top). Cover the pan and let the broccoli steam for about 6 - 7 minutes.
If needed, grate the mozzarella and shred the parmesan. Set aside.
7. FINISH BROCCOLI
Remove the lid and add the pepper flakes and nutmeg. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Keep cooking until the water has evaporated. Add the vinegar and stir, cook until it’s not visible.
8. HALF & HALF
Add the half & half to the broccoli and turn off the heat. Add all but about 1 cup of the mozzarella and all but a few teaspoons of the parmesan. Toss.
If the pot is large enough, stir in the pasta (if it’s not, you can put the pasta back in the pasta pot and pour the broccoli cream over).
Taste it. You might prefer more salt, this is the best time to add it.
9. BAKING DISH
Transfer all pasta to a 9 x 13 baking dish, scrape in all sauce. You can also use a smaller dish which will make the casserole thicker - it doesn’t really matter.
Pat down the pasta in place. Top with the reserved cheese and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes until everything is hot and cheese is melty.
Meanwhile, slice the veggies to make a nice crudité plate on the side.
Serve hot scoops of broccoli pasta on plates with raw veggies on the side.