When my husband goes into the office during the week, I usually eat lunch alone. I have a hard time working up the motivation to cook a whole meal just for myself, so sometimes I end up having a “snack” like chips and hummus until–oops–no need for lunch! Stewart will come home from work and ask if I made anything fun, and it’s then when I realize that toast, or chips, or whatever I had filled myself up with that day probably wasn’t the best idea.
Therefore I’m always trying to come up with recipes that are a little more substantial, but are easy to make and consist of ingredients we always have laying around. Here’s what I decided to work with today:
Fettuccini, lemon, sundried tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and broccoli. For the past couple of days I’ve had the idea of this light, fresh, flavorful pasta floating around in my head. The only ingredients used in the recipe that aren’t pictured here are oil, salt, and black pepper. I love this dish because you can taste everything and it all works really well together. The tanginess of the lemon, the sweetness of the tomatoes, the crisp broccoli, the spicy peppper… it’s really yummy. And hey, any dish that involves broccoli is pretty much an automatic winner in my house.
This dish is written for one, but it should be really easy to scale up if you’re cooking for more. We usually buy whole stalks of broccoli instead of just the crowns because we enjoy eating the stems as much as the florets. While this recipe is for only florets, feel free to add the diced stalk in as well. Just cut 1-2″ off the bottom (the tough, woody part) and you should be good to go. You can peel the stem if you want it even more tender.
The key to this dish is balancing the salt, lemon juice, and oil. You want enough oil to distribute the flavors over the pasta, but not so much it’s greasy. There shouldn’t be any oil pooling in the bottom of the pan or on your plate – you want just enough to coat the pasta and no more. The salt and the lemon juice should even each other out; you should taste both without either being overwhelming. Start with 1 tsp of the lemon juice and then add the salt to taste. You should then have a better idea then if you need more of either.
Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli
Dried Fettucini, enough for one
2 tsp Olive Oil, to start
1 1/2 Cups Fresh Broccoli Florets
1/4 Cup Sliced Sundried Tomatoes (oil packed)
1/2 tsp Hot Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice, or more to taste
1-2 Pinches Kosher Salt, or to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Lemon Zest, for garnish, optional
While the pasta is cooking in well-salted water, chop the broccoli florets in to small pieces (about the size of a nickel). Slice the sundried tomatoes. When pasta is nearly finished cooking, heat a wok over medium-high heat until it’s quite hot. Add oil and broccoli and toss to coat, adding more oil a little at a time if needed. After 1-2 minutes, add tomatoes and pepper flakes.
Let cook undisturbed for another two minutes, then toss. Repeat this process until broccoli and tomatoes have some color on them, and the broccoli is bright green and becoming tender. Drain pasta very well and add to the wok, adding just enough oil to coat the pasta (if needed). Add lemon juice and salt and taste, adjusting if necessary. Plate and grind fresh black pepper over the top, adding lemon zest if desired. Serve immediately.
This also makes a nice room-temperature pasta salad, so it’d be great for picnics, work lunches, or potlucks.