There are days when I drag myself home and have absolutely no desire to cook at all. Most of those nights, the pizza guy comes to our house. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed lately that my waistband is a little more snug than normal (must have shrunk in the wash). So instead of inviting Carl to come visit (yes, I know the pizza delivery guy’s name), I throw this embarrassingly simple dish together.
Seriously. 3 minutes of active work and 20 minutes to the table. The beauty of this is that it’s not only easy – it is also really good. The ingredients are almost always in the fridge, and I don’t have to plan ahead of time. Luckily, the grocery store sells bags of pre-cut broccoli that is washed and ready to use. Beyond crushing a few cloves of garlic and zesting a couple of lemons, the bulk of the prep time is taken up by sitting around, having a glass of wine, and waiting on the pasta water to boil. This is my kind of weeknight cooking!
The sharp, lemony flavor cuts through the buttery sauce and give it a nice balance. The trick is to not overcook the broccoli. A little snap left in the vegetable makes this dish a refreshingly light dinner on a warm night.
Of course, if you want to make a heartier dish, you can add some shrimp to the thing. Just sauté for 5 or 6 minutes before adding the broccoli and pasta to the sauce. In all honesty, I hardly ever make this dish with shrimp added. That would mean a trip to the fish monger, and quite possibly, the extra effort of peeling shrimp. Defeats the whole lazy mindset. If you are that industrious, then have at it – I won’t tell.
So free up some much needed time in your weeknight by whipping up this quick and effortless meal.
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 12 oz. broccoli florets, washed and cut
- 3T olive oil
- 3T butter
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
- ¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- ¼ C grated parmesan cheese
- lemon slices for garnish, if desired
- Add pasta to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook according to package directions.
- While still cool, add olive oil, butter, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest to a large sauté pan.
- Place sauté pan over very low heat, allowing butter to melt and lemon zest to infuse the olive oil mixture.
- Approximately 4 minutes before pasta is cooked, add broccoli florets to boiling pasta pot. Cook broccoli and pasta together until pasta is al dente.
- At the same time, increase heat under sauté pan to medium high
- Add garlic to olive oil and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add lemon juice to finish the sauce.
- Drain pasta and broccoli, then add to both to the sauce.
- Remove from heat.
- Toss with parmesan cheese and lemon slices (if desired).