When I was in first grade, we had a ritual called ‘Student of the Week’. Basically, every week, the teacher would have a mini-interview with the lucky first grader, take their picture with a Polaroid, and hang up a poster with the information and picture on the class wall. Everyone had a turn, and you were told a week before it was yours, so your mom made sure you wore something ‘nice’ that day, and that your bangs were straight. They were the same questions every week, and were important ones for first graders. The ones I remember are: What is your favorite color? What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite food?
When my turn came up, I was very nervous. My favorite color? I have to choose only one? I asked my mom what was hers and if I could use it. It was blue, well blue was nice. But what about my favorite jacket, it’s red, does that mean it can’t be my favorite jacket anymore if I choose blue? You get the picture. The whole week I was afraid to commit to a color. When my turn came, the teacher asked me what my favorite color was, then my favorite animal, and I was very nervous having those written down on this poster for ever, this eternal bond. But when I was asked what my favorite food was, I beamed, and replied without thinking “Macaroni with Broccoli”. The teacher’s jaw dropped, since hamburgers and ice cream were the norm. “Are you sure?” she said. I replied, “Well, have you tasted it before? ”
- 1 bag of Macaroni (Any shape, I like to use Fusilli (screws) or Farfalle (bows) because they are fun)
- 1 head broccoli
- 1 clove garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
Preparation (Aprrox. 30 mins):
Boil the macaroni, when using fancy shaped pasta, try to undercook to prevent pasta from breaking and losing its shape. Drain.
Chop the broccoli heads off the stalk. Leave as much stalk as you like, I prefer to actually chop most of the stalk in, since I love broccoli. However I suggest to cut the florets (heads) with minimal stalk if cooking for company or if trying broccoli for the first time. The stalk can cause some stomach discomfort if too much is eaten. Boil the broccoli for 10 mins. The broccoli should remain green, but a knife should score through it easily. If the broccoli turns a brownish green then you have over cooked it.
In a pot, heat the olive oil. Add in the garlic and stir until the minced garlic is no longer translucent and becomes opaque white. This takes only 30 seconds approx. This step is critical, if the garlic is left to brown, it have gone too far and will have a bitter taste. Throw in the drained , boiled broccoli. Add your salt and pepper. Stir well. Add in the pasta. Give another couple of stirs. Voila!
If you like, serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese. This pasta can be eaten cold, and is perfect for picnics. It will not go bad quickly, since we use no animal fat.