This week I celebrated the arrival of my new baby: a beautiful, pristine Cambridge-blue ceramic pan.
Yes, I’m aware this is a little strange. Most people celebrate the arrival of actual children, of Spring, of parcels and packages and Christmas and birthdays. But those of you who understand the excitement associated with a new kitchen accessory – its perfect white ceramic surface gleaming up at you – you’re my kindred spirits. We’ll be completely mad together.
The colour makes me think of spring, which is fitting because it’s growing ever so slightly warmer in London – by which I mean you can now leave the scarf, hat and gloves at home and just go out with a coat and umbrella. Every day I throw open the curtains and peer eagerly up at the sky, just waiting for the moment I can put away the Vitamin D tablets and bask in the sunshine.
It’s just around the corner. I can feel it.
Broccoli with pasta is traditional to the south of Italy. This light, simple dish is bright enough to celebrate the imminent arrival of sunshine and filling enough to stave off the last of the winter blues, and it always makes me think of the outdoors and lazy days full of wine and laughter. I love the juicy burst of fresh tomatoes and the crunchy zing of parsley, combined with the dense bite of pasta and the gentle heat of garlic and chilli.
For me, this is the perfect spring supper.
Pasta with broccoli, garlic and chilli
250g short pasta
1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
5 cloves garlic, diced
½ teaspoon Chiu Chow chilli oil (you can use chilli flakes)
3-4 sprigs parsley, chopped
10 cherry or baby plum tomatoes
Cook the pasta in salted water until firm but not hard.
Three minutes before the pasta finishes, add the broccoli to the pot.
Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta and broccoli.
In a frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic in some oil and heat for around 30 seconds, taking care not to let it burn.
Add the chilli and fry for another 15 seconds, then add half the reserved liquid to the frypan. Turn the heat up so it bubbles.
Add the pasta/broccoli and heat through. If it becomes too dry, add more of the cooking liquid so it forms a creamy sauce.
Top with parsley and serve with cherry tomatoes.