Peppery Broccoli with Feta Cheese and Angel Hair Pasta

Posted on September 30th, 2011  |  Filed under Episode 201 « Sara's Weeknight Meals Season 2

Peppery Broccoli with Feta CheeseMakes 4 Servings
Hands-On Time: 10 Minutes
Total Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

Suggested accompaniments:
Rustic bread
Salad

Ingredients
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds)
12 oz angel hair pasta
2 c Homemade Vegetable or Chicken Stock or canned broth
1/2 to 1 t crushed red pepper flakes
6 oz feta cheese
Kosher salt

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cut the broccoli tops into bite-size florets; trim and peel the stems and slice them 1/2 inch thick (about 7 cups total). When the
pot of water comes to a boil, add the broccoli. Cook for 3 minutes; remove the broccoli to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
2. Add the angel hair to the boiling water and cook until al dente, following the package directions. Drain well and return the pasta to the cooking pot.
3. Meanwhile, combine the vegetable stock and red pepper flakes to taste in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Crumble the cheese (about 1 1/2 cups).
4. Add the broccoli, vegetable stock, and cheese to the drained pasta. Heat over medium heat until hot; add salt, if needed, and serve.

Cook’s Notes
What kind of feta cheese should you use? (The notes below come from Rob Kaufeldt’s, “The Murray’s Cheese Handbook,” an excellent little quick reference book.)

There are three main varieties you will find in the store:

  • French –Delicate, creamy and balanced, less salty and more mild than the
  • other two choices
  • Greek - the original and still an excellent choice, milder than Bulgarian and
  • more complex than French
  • Bulgarian – very salty, crumbly texture with a taste reminiscent of oil cured Moroccan olives

Any one of these fetas would work well here, although if you are budget minded, a generic supermarket brand is fine too since the cheese is not the main star in this dish.

Vegetable stock: Whenever I am prepping vegetables I save the scraps (the peels, the root end of the onion, etc), throw them into a resealable bag and pop the bag in the freezer. I keep adding vegetable scraps until I have accumulated enough to make a stock. I combine the scraps with water, bring to a simmer and simmer for about 1 hour. I strain the liquid, discard the scraps and have vegetable stock at the ready. However, if you just want to make a vegetable stock from scratch with whole vegetables here is a good recipe:

Homemade Vegetable Stock
Makes about 4 cups
8 medium mushrooms, preferably cremini
3 medium onions
6 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 medium stalks celery
3 medium carrots
1 medium Russet potato
10 cups cold water
2 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon soy sauce (low-sodium if you prefer)
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
2 Turkish bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Clean, trim, and coarsely chop the mushrooms (about 2 2/3 cups). Coarsely chop the onions (about 3 cups) and garlic (about 2 tablespoons). Heat the oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Meanwhile, very coarsely chop the celery (about 1 1/2 cups) and carrots (about 1 1/2 cups). Scrub and coarsely chop the potato with the skin on (about 1 3/4 cups). Add the water, celery, carrots, potato, parsley, soy sauce, peppercorns, and bay leaves to the stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low immediately and simmer, for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to keep vegetables covered.

Strain the stock through a colander into a bowl. Discard the solids and return the liquid to the stockpot; boil until reduced by one quarter. Add salt and pepper to taste.



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