Finally, the next chapter of “Weekday Lunch,” where I offer recipes for food that fits in tupperware and warms in the office microwave.
This dish happened completely by accident. D had decided to order a pizza for dinner, and I decided to do something else, seeing as it would have been my fourth pizza meal of the week. (Ugh.) I did a quick scan of the fridge and saw a bag of nice-looking young broccoli that I’d picked up at the weekend farmers’ market. I also had the last of a tub of greek olives that I’d recently replaced with a new tub and wanted to use up, and the end of a jar of summer’s tomato sauce. There was about 1/4 of a box of macaroni left in the cupboard, so I figured I’d throw the last little bits of each of these to make a nice pasta dinner.
I started by finely chopping a shallot and heating a tab of butter in a large, shallow pan over medium-low heat. When the shallot was translucent and fragrant but not brown, I added about 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes and 2 cups of broccoli. I knew I planned to cook the broccoli just until al dente, but I wanted to use the stems as well as the florets, so I sliced the stems pretty finely — about 1/3-1/2-inch thick — so that they’d cook pretty quickly. I added a hefty pinch of salt and tossed the pan a couple times to combine.
Soon after adding the broccoli, I tossed in what was left of the olives, probably about 1/2 cup worth. I also added about a tablespoon of capers. At this point, the broccoli was heating up and had turned a vibrant shade of green. I wanted to preserve this color, so I added a very little bit of water from the pasta, which had already started to cook. Non-pasta water would have been fine as well, but it helps to have the water be hot, so that it doesn’t slow down the cooking.
After about five minutes, the broccoli was almost perfect; still that beautiful green shade, mostly cooked but still with a bite. I ended up adding several ladlefuls of my tomato sauce, and eventually some hot pasta, to make this dinner. But before tomatoes ever hit the pan, I looked down at the broccoli with its briny accompaniments and thought, gosh, this’d make a fantastic side. So there you have it; broccoli with capers and olives. I’d probably squeeze a bit of lemon if I were serving this alone; hitting it with some acidity would compliment the vegetal and salty flavors. I could see it served atop israeli couscous, or as an accompaniment to chicken. It was also pretty great mixed with tomato sauce and tossed with the end of the box of macaroni. Just sayin’.