Tuesday Night Dinner with Christopher Kimball

Seira Wilson on November 13, 2018

TuesNight_200H.jpgOne of our picks for the 20 best cookbooks of 2018 is Christopher Kimball's latest, Milk Street: Tuesday Nights.  Kimball understands that home cooks are often juggling a love of cooking with a busy schedule.  In Milk Street :Tuesday Nights he gives us the best of both worlds with 200 recipes for delicious dinners that are short on time, big on flavor. 

Kimball is a world traveler, and his recipes reflect a global outlook on food that goes beyond a typical fast fix menu.  We asked him to share a recipe that's a personal favorite from the book, and what makes it special.  Rigatoni with Roman Broccoli Sauce, below, sounds perfect for my Tuesday night dinner dash...

During a trip to Rome, we were delighted to discover a new, fresh-tasting simple pasta sauce: broccoli sauce. Romans use the large leaves that grow around the heads of broccoli for the sauce but since these leaves are stripped off before sale here in the USA, we use broccoli stems, florets, and baby spinach. The best part of the recipe, other than the taste of course, is that the stems are cooked in boiling water, then the spinach leaves are wilted for 20 seconds, and then the florets. These go into a blender with garlic, capers and butter. Finally the boiling water is used to cook the pasta. Delizioso! --Christopher Kimball


Rigatoni with Roman Broccoli Sauce
Start to Finish: 35 minutes | Serves: 4

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 pound broccoli, stems and florets separated
1. cups packed baby spinach
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, divided
12 ounces rigatoni pasta
1 ounce pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1/2 cup), plus more to serve

Note: Don’t undercook the broccoli stems.
We’re accustomed to cooking vegetables until crisp-tender, but the stems here should be cooked until fully tender.

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Peel the broccoli stems, reserving any leaves, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds. Add the stems and leaves to the boiling water and cook until fully tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender; reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Keep the water at a boil.

Cut the broccoli florets into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add the florets to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water until cooled. Again, keep the water at a boil.

To the blender
, add the garlic, butter, capers, pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest and the reserved broccoli cooking water. Puree until smooth and bright green, about 30 seconds. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the rigatoni into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain. Return the pasta to the pot and add the broccoli florets, the broccoli puree, 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon zest and the cheese.

Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly and the pasta is well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

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