Last weekend, I was in a mood to try something new. It’s been ages since I experimented with Italian food – so much easier sticking to the tried and tested recipes that work when you have two small kids (and especially when one – our Piglet is such a picky eater).
But I was bored and wanted to eat aglio olio spaghetti which I’ve enjoyed in a number of restaurants lately, and thought of replicating it at home.
I had photographed a couple of recipes from a recipe book, but eventually, I went with a recipe I saw on Food Network, as it was much simpler and required less ingredients. Plus, it had universally good reviews, so I ended up trying out the Food Network recipe, with a few minor tweaks.
- 1 large bunch broccoli, cut into about 4 cups florets and 1 cup thinly sliced stems from close to the base
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Add the broccoli florets to a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Prepare a bowl of ice water.
- Remove the florets from the pot, reserving the cooking water. Stop the cooking process by shocking them in the ice water.
- Remove the florets and pat dry.
- Add the spaghetti in the same pot of water. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the oil, sliced broccoli stems, red pepper flakes and garlic to a large skillet over medium-low heat and sprinkle with salt.
- Cook until the garlic is lightly toasted and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
- Add the florets, toss to coat and warm through.
- Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, and add the pasta to the skillet.
- Increase the heat to medium-high.
- Toss the ingredients and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.
- Sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve.
Recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro
I felt that the original recipe was too bland, so I upped the quantity of garlic and red chilli pepper flakes to suit our taste buds, and reduced the amount of cheese used (again wanted a more spicy aglio olio). I also used a mixed Italian seasoning spice to add more flavor to the spaghetti, and subbed regular salt instead of the Kosher salt recommended in the recipe.
The original recipe also asked to sprinkle with lemon at the end, but I forgot to do that. I am not sure it made a huge difference to the taste, but the next time I make this dish, I”ll be sure to add the lemon and see how it tastes. I would also add more veggies to the spaghetti – thinking a yellow summer squash, and sun-dried tomatoes (if I can get them) would make a nice addition.
So did the kids eat it?
Snubnose loved this dish, lapping up two helpings with extra broccoli to boot. So win from that quarter. Piglet as expected turned up his nose (his pickiness is really quite tiresome), and ended up having the regular chappatis and paneer dish that I had kept as a back-up.
Still, this dish was so tasty that it is definitely going on repeat. I have decided that I am not going to let Piglet’s fussiness impact all our food choices. I mean it’s ridiculous that we all eat the same monotonous food every day just because one little imp doesn’t like variety. I just need to plan around his meals that’s all, and just make sure there is some other option for him on the days I experiment.
Hopefully he”ll come out of this phase some day.
Do you have picky eaters at home? How do you work around dishes with a picky eater around? Do share any tips if you have.
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