Well, like I said, you’re going to be seeing more of me now that winter is creeping up and I have far fewer time constraints. Two posts in the span of two weeks! You’re gonna get spoiled… lol.
I wanted to make a nice and easy family dinner last night, but also needed something that is “wallet friendly” (i.e. it was the 13th and payday is the 15th, I know some of you feel my pain!) and doesn’t take too much time. I decided to go with one of my childhood favorites, that now my kids have fallen in love with (they ask for it at least once every few weeks)… Pasta with broccoli. I decided to add a little sausage too, you know, since I am a pork junky.
2lb Dry Pasta (I used Gemelli, but it really just boils down to your preference)
2lb Sweet Italian Sausage, cut into bite sized pieces prior to cooking
1 1/2lb Broccoli Florets
8 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 Jumbo Shallot, chopped
1 Bunch of Parsley, chopped
1tbsp Olive Oil
1c Dry White Wine
32oz Chicken Stock
2tsp Salt (plus more for pasta water)
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
Parmesan Cheese (if desired)
It really doesn’t get much simpler than this dish.
Heat your olive oil on HIGH in a large sauce pot (I use 8QT, can’t go too much smaller), add your chunks of sweet sausage and cook until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM and add the chopped garlic and shallot along with 1tsp each of salt and ground black pepper. Cook until the vegetables start to sweat, about 3-5 minutes. Increase the heat back to HIGH and add the white wine. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half, then add the chicken stock, along with an additional 1tsp each of salt and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to MEDIUM LOW and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook your pasta. Boil the pasta for two minutes less than specified on the packaging.
At the same time that you begin boiling your pasta add the broccoli florets to the broth and simmer covered on MEDIUM LOW. In all likelihood the broth won’t be enough to cover all of the florets, unless you’re using a really wide pot, so just stir periodically to cook them evenly.
Strain the slightly under cooked pasta and add it to the sauce pot, along with the chopped parsley. Simmer covered for an additional 5 minutes, stirring periodically.
That’s it, you’re done! Ladle it out, add some grated parmesan if you so desire, and enjoy!!
Now let’s talk wine. Being that there’s sausage in the dish you’re going to want to go with a red, but the other flavors are all pretty subtle, so you don’t necessarily want to go with anything too full bodied or you risk overpowering the dish. Think along the lines of a Gamay or Pinot Noir with some meaty or smokey notes, Barbera, Dolcetto, a lighter bodied Cabernet Franc… Things along those lines. Here are a few recommendations.
Fleur de California Pinot Noir, Carneros, California – Fleur de California is the second label of Francis Mahoney, one of the founding fathers of Carneros Pinot Noir. Some of the clusters are taken from his own vineyards, and the remaining balance is sourced from vineyards that Francis has built relationships with over the last 40+ years of growing in the region. In the glass is a medium bodied wine of ruby hue. The nose is layered, with aromas of pomegranate, bright cherry, pantry spices and toasted oak. The nuances of flavor on the palate are in line with the wine’s bouquet, framed by moderate acidity and very subtle fine tannins giving the wine a bit of backbone. Well done for the price. PP Score: 90 (Retail $15-18)
Chais St. Laurent Chinon, Loire, France – The Chais St. Laurent wines are made by Maison Foucher-Lebrun, a “Petit Négociant” specializing in wines from the Loire Valley. The Cabernet Franc for their Chinon is sourced from the villages of Rivière, Beaumont-en-Véron and Savigny-en-Véron. The wine is medium bodied, but still bright and friendly for a Chinon, partly in thanks to the fact that it’s aged entirely in stainless steel. On the palate you’ll find nuances of bright cherry, cassis, black currants, earth tones, dried herbs and green bell pepper with subtle acidity and chewy tannins in the finish. A tremendous value at this price point. PP Score: 90 (Retail $9-12)
Forteto della Luja Le Grive Monferrato Rosso, Piemonte, Italy – Forteto della Luja is a small family run winery that was established in the Loazzolo DOC in 1826, located between Monferrato and the village of Asti. While my review will not be this brief, one word could suffice to describe their wines. Beautiful. From their Moscatos to their Barberas and beyond, every single wine they make is absolutely beautiful. The estate’s flagship wine is their Le Grive, a blend of Barbera and Pinot Noir from the ampitheater shaped Le Grive vineyard, named as such for the thrushes that take up residence there during the winter to feast on the juniper bushes that surround the valley. I’ve consumed many, many, many wines in my life, but this is one of the few that have ever left me speechless. In the glass you’ll find a medium bodied wine of garnet hue. Once the wine has a chance to breathe the bouquet comes alive with aromas of cherry, juniper, dried sage and hints of crushed violet. On the palate the wine is simultaneously complex and simple… There are various layers and nuances, but they all come together in such perfect harmony that you don’t necessarily realize how complex it truly is. The prevalent notes are black cherries, dark plum and hints of ripe raspberry, with subtle nuances of dried herbs, rose petal, vanilla and pantry spice, all brought together by moderate acidity and soft tannins. The wine is not easily found as production is small and distribution is limited, but if you do find it don’t just get one bottle, buy the whole case. I strongly recommend decanting this for at least two hours prior to drinking. PP Score: 96 (Retail $28-34) *certified organic
So there you have it, my very simple and family friendly pasta & broccoli recipe, and some wines to wash it down with. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and I certainly hope you’ll try the dish. As always, new content will be coming soon(‘ish). In the meantime, crack open a bottle of Pinot Noir, bit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!