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8 Nov 2012

Sicilian Pasta e Broccoli in Support for Sandy

Pasta e Broccoli Sicilian style

Last week the New York area got hit by a terrible "hurricane" that crippled the city and the surrounding states. From this side of the Ocean, we couldn't help but feel the angst of the people getting ready for what was to come. Those who didn't have to evacuate were getting ready to live without electricity for a few days.
Being from Sicily, I am used to loosing electricity power almost at each storm that hit my town, but this never last more than a couple of hours. I can't imagine what it means to remap our life around camp stoves and charcoal grills with the fear that most of the food was spoiling away in a dark and warm fridge.
Furthermore, when trees fall not only the power lines are affected but also the telephone ones are and this is enough to send far-away siblings into fibrillation.

Things are slowly getting back to normal, power is returning to households and the regular life can restart soon. Still, lots of destruction needs to be amended and all the goodwill organisation out there really can use our help.

In this optic Jenn of Jenncuisine and Barbara of Creative Culinary have organised this flash action targeting the always extremely supporting food-bloggers community.
By proposing you a welcomely and homely dish, we want to raise awareness toward some of the numerous charity organisations that are helping in the reconstruction. This list is far from being exhaustive, but some of the larger organizations accepting donations include:
  • Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross, you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations to storm relief.
  • Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.

I have chosen to propose you one of the most favorite of my mom's: Pasta e Broccoli. Different version of this simple dish exist in Sicily and broccoli is widely used as vegetable especially as stuffing for our "cudduruni" (home-made calzone with thin pizza dough casing).

The simplest and of secure instant satisfaction version of this pasta requires a very fond love of raw garlic since you simple strain the pasta and broccoli (that have been cooking in together) over some finely minced garlic in your serving plate. A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a handful of grated Parmesan and you are in heaven!
This must be my family equivalent of chicken soup as panacea for all sicknesses.

The version I propose you is more layered with the earthy flavours of Southern Italy. Do not fear, a very healthy dose of garlic goes in it as well but along with it a handful of black olives, savory and briny anchovies and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
Traditionally this pasta would be topped with toasted breadcrumbs but I still prefer the savory richness of grated Parmesan over this dish rich of contrasts.

When boiled, broccoli develop a very sweet flavour with a daunting melting-in-the-mouth texture. The seldom accents of bitter black olives serves well to wake up your senses to the next bite of sweetness.

Earthy Pasta e Broccoli Sicilian style
Ingredients (serve 2):

  • 150g short pasta like fusilli
  • 120g broccoli florets, halved or quartered if too big
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste or 3 anchovy fillets under salt
  • 50g black olives, stoned and slivered
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Bring a big pot of water to the boil, salt it as you would for pasta and drop in both the pasta and the broccoli florets. 

In the meantime, in a wide pan, combine the olive oil with the anchovy (or anchovy paste), the red pepper flakes, half of the minced garlic, the black olives and a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. On medium-low fire, cook the seasoning stirring gently until the anchovies will have melted down, add extra pasta water if needed.

When the pasta will be al-dente drain it, preferably using a slotted spoon, onto the hot pan with the anchovy-olive seasoning, add the balance of minced garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
Check the seasoning for salt and serve with an extra optional drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a nice dusting of grated Parmesan.

Follow the Titter hashtag #FBS4Sandy to check the other contributors to the event.


  1. Thanks so much Alessio for joining in. The dish looks like a perfect definition of comfort. And more importantly, thanks so much for sharing ways to donate - I have been in awe with how generous the food blogging community is, and I know together we will help a lot of people :)

  2. Hi. Do you really mean black olives (which are pretty sweet) or Greek or similar olives?


    1. Hi, I do mean "real" black olives as the Greek ones or any black olive that come with a stone :) The ones that taste sweet and look black, are actually dyed black and bleached out of any flavor :(