Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Call Any Vegetable
Tonight I called broccoli.
Good thing broccoli responded, because I was pressed for time. Margy was running late, I had rehearsal, and my only shot at a decent dinner for us was making something quickly with whatever was lying around. So yeah, we had pasta again. I don't usually cook pasta two nights in a row, but both of us could certainly eat it every day. We've done it in Italy, where the whole country eats pasta daily... and svelte 80-year-old pasta-eating men ride bicycles up long 45-degree hills with lit cigarettes dangling from their lips. So why not?
The recipe is an awesome vegetarian dish that my mom taught me -- a simple oil-based sauce with chickpeas and broccoli. Eaten very hot with lots of Parmesan, it makes you feel fantastic. I don't have exact instructions per se, but it pretty much goes like this:
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add a bunch of thinly sliced garlic, some chopped parsley, a big pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. I've found that playing chicken with the garlic is a good way to go with this dish -- let it get nice and brown, almost approaching too brown. You'll be adding rinsed chickpeas in a second, and water later, so at this point your garlic will be about as browned as it will get.
Add a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas, and stir to coat with the oil-garlic-parsley base. Cook this for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas begin to become tender. If the mixture is drying out, add 2 tablespoons of water. (At some point while the chickpeas are cooking, start boiling your pasta, since you have about 10 minutes to go.)
Then throw plenty of cut-up broccoli, florets and stems (cut the stems a little smaller, since they take longer to cook), into the pot with the chickpeas. Add a pinch of salt. Stir in 1/2 or 3/4 cup of water, enough to make a sauce without drowning your chickpeas and broccoli. (I recommend using the starchy cooking water from the pasta, assuming the pasta is boiling by now. If not, tap water is fine.) Cook the broccoli for about 4-6 minutes until tender but still deep green. Check for salt. Serve sauce over pasta, with grated cheese.
My goodness, it's delicious. A Margy favorite.
Making a cameo in the photo is the Frank Zappa biography I'm reading, a gift from my dear friend Mr. Thowmbpsin. You can just make out Frank's iconic facial hair on the spine of the book. If you dig Zappa, as I do, it's a fascinating read. Excerpts from his Senate speech regarding censorship and stickers on records are alone worth the price of admission (I think the full speech is in his autobiography). "Fundamentalism is not a state religion." That's a good one. Yet it seems Frank was incapable of giving or receiving love. How could this be true of a man who wrote songs like, "I Ain't Got No Heart," "The Torture Never Stops," "The Illinois Enema Bandit," "Shove It Right In," "Didja Get Any Onya?" and "Hot Poop"?
After all, he also brought us "The Voice of Cheese," "The Duke of Prunes," "Crusing for Burgers," "The Sealed Tuna Bolero," "Peaches en Regalia," and of course, "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich."