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Broccoli and feta ragù

I don’t think feta gets the respect it deserves. People are always raving on about the oozy, creamy French cheeses, while I could quite happily indulge in a piece of salty, tangy and crumbly feta. It is incredibly versatile and has the power to transform a simple, one-dimensional dish, just like this broccoli pasta. Usually broccoli pasta is aided by anchovy fillets or sausages, but here it gets a leg up from the feta, which melts into a creamy sauce that coats the pasta. With very few ingredients, it transforms this simple vegetarian meal into a dish any meat eater would enjoy.

Broccoli and feta ragù

Serves 4

1 large head of broccoli
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive

oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped pinch of chilli flakes
sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper
120 g Greek feta, crumbled zest of 1 lemon
handful of grated Parmigiano

Reggiano

FRESH PASTA FOR 4

Shapes I like for this sauce

orecchiette, cavatelli/ malloreddus

DRIED PASTA FOR 4

Shapes I like for this sauce
conchiglie (shells), fusilli

Bring a large saucepan of water to a lively boil and season as salty as the sea.

Peel the broccoli stalk to remove any woody bits, then cut the stalk into 1 cm-thick slices. Chop the florets into 50 cent-sized pieces – you want everything to be around the same size so it cooks evenly. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes, until just blanched and bright green. Using a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli and set aside. Keep the water on the boil and add your pasta.

Finely chop the broccoli into small pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until just starting


to turn golden, but please don’t let it burn. Add the chilli flakes and broccoli and toss everything together. Season lightly, remembering you have your salty feta and Parmigiano Reggiano to come. Give the mixture another toss.

Ladle 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) of the pasta cooking water into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the broccoli starts to soften but still has some bite (we don’t want a mush). Your finely chopped broccoli should drink up most of this water.

When your pasta is just al dente, use that slotted spoon again to scoop it directly into the sauce. Add the feta and give everything a good stir, adding some more pasta cooking water to loosen it all up. The pasta, broccoli and cheese will drink up a lot of the liquid, so keep this in mind as you’re after a loose sauce. Toss the pasta until the feta has all but melted and you are left with

a lovely creamy sauce.

 

Stir through the lemon zest and Parmigiano Reggiano. Give everything a final toss and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.