Anna Boiardi’s Leaving-home Penne Rigate with Broccoli
Anna Boiardi was born in Piacenza, Italy. Piacenza is located in the North of Italy in Emilia Romagna region known for such Italian delicacies as tortelli, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, prosciutto and pasta e fagioli , just to name a few. Anna is granddaughter of Mario Boiardi and niece of Hector Boiardi, both Italian immigrants who moved to the US in the early 1900s and began working at the famed Plaza Hotel in NY. Later the brothers co-founded Chef Boy-ar-dee with their older brother Paul Boiardi. Growing up in an Italian family of chefs was bound to have an influence on Anna. She spent many hours in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother learning how to cook.
The Boiardi name has reached tables across America for more than 70 years. Most Americans have fond memories of the iconic Chef Boy-Ar- Dee. From a very young age, Anna Boiardi spent countless hours helping her mother and grandmother, kneading and folding, and listening to stories as rich as the tortellini she and her mother would work to perfection. In her new cookbook, Delicious Memories, Anna shares the authentic sauce, meat, and of course, pasta recipes that inspired the brand.
Out of college and living in LA, Anna realized that many women her age did not know how to cook. While time was always an issue for working girls, most did not have the benefit of growing up in a family where cooking was not only a family business but it was a way of life. When not working as a television producer, Anna began to teach some of her friends simple dishes and encouraged them to turn on their own ovens and give it a whirl. Now living in NY, Anna continues to share her love of cooking with her friends through her dinner parties and her informal cooking class Cucina Academy. Here’s a favorite recipe that both novice and experienced cooks will love.
My mom used to make this yummy, Parmesan-and-broccoli-flecked pasta a lot when we were growing up because it was a relatively painless way to get us kids to eat broccoli. And when I went to college, she packed up the recipe for me as part of a set of family recipes that she thought would be easy enough for me to make in my new apartment. This was one of the first dishes I had the courage to cook on my own, and it became a staple of my college years. But leaving home isn’t so easy. I remember the first time I set out to cook this in my new life. It wasn’t until I was at the grocery store with recipe in hand that I realized that I couldn’t actually read it: I never could read my mom’s handwriting—I’m forever calling her up to ask her to translate her scrawl. But there I was, first time out, walking up to strangers in the supermarket asking, “Can you read this?” These days, my friends have a habit of calling me from the supermarket at five p.m., looking for a suggestion for dinner. This is the recipe I give them because it’s completely easy and if it’s five o’clock and you’re still in the supermarket, you can still be eating by six fifteen (assuming you don’t live too far away).
Note that the broccoli cooks long enough to turn soft and buttery. When you work it all together with your wooden spoon—broccoli, olive oil, and cheese—the broccoli turns into the sauce. Use a colander with fairly small holes (or a mesh strainer) so that the broccoli buds don’t escape into the sink when you drain the pasta.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a good handful of salt (about ¼ cup), enough that you can taste it. Set a fine strainer in the sink.
When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and wait until the water returns to a boil. Add the pasta and set the timer to the number of minutes recommended on the box. When the timer rings, drain the penne and broccoli in the colander, then dump them into a large serving bowl.
Add the olive oil and mix well with a wooden spoon so that the pasta is coated and the bits of broccoli are well distributed throughout. Add the cheese and stir well until you have a nice, green-speckled sauce. Sprinkle with a little extra cheese, and add some pepper.
1-1/2 pounds broccoli, washed, stems discarded, cut into bite-size florets
1 pound penne rigate
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving
Freshly ground pepper
to you by Amy Tobin
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