Sunday, September 23, 2012

I have a shelf full of cookbooks, but the reality is that I only use about 10% of them on a regular basis.

Now that I’m blogging, many of the new recipes I try are the ones I find on other people’s blogs.  And if I’m looking through my cookbook cupboard, most of the time I pull out one of my favourites (Barefoot Contessa, Bonnie Stern) to look for a recipe.

So why do I have so many other cookbooks that I can't bear to part with?  I couldn't get rid of the first cookbook I ever bought for myself.  I bought a copy of Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest after I'd been at a friend's house who cooked from it.  And The Penny Whistle Birthday Party Book will stay on my shelf as long as I'm cooking.  The girls and I used to leaf though it together in advance of every birthday party, looking for a theme and food to go with it.  It's probably the most loved of all my cookbooks, with a torn cover and dog-eared pages to prove it.

Despite my affection for the cookbooks I own, I still like it when I find a new cookbook that I fall in love with.  And that’s why it was great to come across The Fresh & Green Table.  I’ve tried three recipes so far and loved them all, and I have many more marked to try.  Last week’s frittata was from this book too.  All of her recipes are full of vegetables, and full of flavour.  Is there anything better than finding a recipe that’s delicious, and healthy too?

Pasta with Broccoli, Sun-dried tomatoes and Goat Cheese
(from The Fresh and Green Table, by Susie Middleton)


Kosher salt
1/2 lb (225 g) cavatappi, straccetti or rotini (I couldn’t find cavatappi, but any spiral or corkscrew pasta should do)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (first amount)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (second amount)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound small broccoli florets (approximately 4 crowns), each cut into pieces about 1” long and 3/4” wide
1/2 cup thinly sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
2 oz (55 grams) goat cheese, crumbled while still cold
1/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Put a colander in the sink and place a glass liquid measure next to it.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.  Take the pot off the heat and, before draining the pasta, pour about 2/3 cup of the pasta water into the glass measure.  Drain the pasta in the colander and let it sit, loosely covered with foil or a pot lid.

Have ready a small heatproof bowl near the stove.  In a large nonstick stir-fry pan, heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium-low heat.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to simmer in the oil.  Cook for just about 30 seconds more to infuse the oil.  (Do not let the garlic brown.)  Pour and scrape the seasoned oil into the heatproof bowl and reserve.  Wipe the pan out with a paper towel.

Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, and raise the heat to medium high.  When the oil is hot, add the broccoli and 1 tsp salt and stir well.  The pan will seem crowded and the broccoli may look dry, but the broccoli will shrink and give off moisture as it cooks.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli has shrunk (it will mostly fit in a single layer in the pan) and the florets have turned bright green, about 10 minutes.

Measure out 1/3 cup of the pasta water and pour it into the stir-fry pan.  Quickly add the sun-dried tomatoes.  Then cover the pan briefly and continue cooking until the water has simmered down to almost nothing (about 15 to 20 seconds).  Uncover and remove the pan from the heat.

Add the drained pasta to the pan, season it with 1/4 tsp salt, and drizzle it with all the reserved garlic-red pepper oil.  Stir briefly.  Add the goat cheese and most of the Parmigiano and stir until everything is well distributed.  Add another 1 to 2 Tbsp pasta water and stir again until the goat cheese loosens up a bit and gets creamier.  Add another 1 to 2 Tbsp pasta water, if necessary.

Serve right away, garnished with the remaining Parmigiano.

(By the way, this cookbook recommendation is a completely independent opinion.  I picked up the cookbook on my own and haven’t been reimbursed or gifted by the author or publisher, nor do I know them.  I just like telling people about things that I love.)


Barbara said...

I'm always tempted to use other bloggers' recipes too, Beth. There so much talent out there! I have list upon list of recipes garnered from our blog friends.
But I do love turning to my cookbooks too. Or magazines. I'm crazy about pasta salads and always use whole wheat pasta; not even so much because it's better for me, but I love the nutty taste. This salad looks yummy!

Valerie Gamine said...

The Enchanted Broccoli Forest!? What a splendid name for a cookbook, or any book, for that matter!

This recipe sounds hearty, and delicious. Broccoli needs pasta to really make it sing. :)

Bonnie said...

Beth, I too have a expansive collection of cookbooks which are seldom opened, but I refuse to pare down. I have a reason for keeping each and everyone. I will admit I did consent to storing some, but I often regret doing so.

lisa is cooking said...

I'm really enjoying that book too! I honestly want to try every recipe in it. This one looks delicious. I love pasta with broccoli!

Anonymous said...

I haven't been able to throw away any cookbook. But, luckily, I only own about 12, which all have sentimental value.

Saji said...

Can you believe I just posted Pasta recipe with broccoli :)

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

We must have similar taste! The Barefoot Contessa is probably my #1 go-to cookbook AND i own The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I love my cookbook collection, even if I don't use it as much as I should!

Kitchen Riffs said...

I have tons of cookbooks - close to 300! Obviously I'm not cooking from each and every one every day or even every year. I'd guess that 10% figure is pretty accurate for me, too - when I use cookbooks (which I don't that much) I keep turning to the same ones. Unless I'm learning a new cuisine where I'm unfamiliar with the ingredients and techniques, recipes have become more a general guide to me (the exception is baking - I'm not a good enough baker to improvise, so I have to follow instructions to the letter). Anyway, both cookbooks and blogs give me lots of idea; but then I usually take the idea and do something completely different! Like your recipe today - I can see serving both as a hot or cold dish (adding a bit of vinegar to the cold - we're talking salad here). And there's a few other changes I'd make too - although I must say, as written it's an excellent dish. I'd make it that way, too. ;-) Thanks for this.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I have a ton of cookbooks we never use. But I know what you mean about them having memories that make them hard to part with.

Unknown said...

Healthy :)
Latest Recipe-Murg Malai Kabab | Chicken Kabab

Anonymous said...

I am a broccoli fanatic! This, especially with the goat cheese, sounds fantastic. Blogs make me aware of even more cookbooks that I'd like to have - thank goodness for the library!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Uh, oh, you're naming cookbooks I don't own! I'm a cookbook junkie, too, but now I seem to find more recipes on-line than from my collection. Your broccoli pasta dish sure looks like a winner, Beth!

Angela Ackerman said...

Oh wow...this looks SOOOO good! I used to have a huge cookbook collection, and just this past summer I purged. I decided it was time, because like you, I realized I didn't use them any more except for the occasional recipe. Mainly I get recipes online now, from friends and from sites like all recipes.

It felt good to let go of those books. It was hard because they were special, but I am glad I did. :)

Cindy said...

My cookbooks are like my friends. Some I don't look at for a long time but when I do pick it up it's like never left it!
So, no cookbooks can go, I just need another shelf! Because I haven't stopped buying cookbooks.
The recipe looks delicious.
I do however buy many cookbooks from Amazon that are slightly used.
My Baking With Julia cookbook has many helpful notations. I know a kindred spirit used it before me.

Belinda said...

Simple and perfect. I do keep a few tried and true cookbooks, but I often forget to use them!! Love just going through them for ideas and inspiration.

Carol said...

I love cookbooks and I read them like novels so I understand having a shelf of them that you can't part with. The broccoli pasta looks delicious, so I can imagine that the book is a winner as well!

Janet Johnson said...

Okay, I am totally making this one. It just looks fabulous!

And as for the cookbooks . . . I have some I've NEVER used, yet still I cling to them. Because what if??? You know? :)

Jess said...

Yum! I love recipes like this~ simple and fresh and delicious! I'm like you in referencing the same 3 cookbooks over and over, and neglecting the rest...but those old ones come in handy at times. Two weeks ago I wanted to make my hubby a carrot cake for his birthday, and I remembered the mouthwatering carrot cake that was made weekly at the dude ranch I worked at in college. I pulled out the old recipe book from that year (a very casually-put-together old thing that the woman who did the cooking made for the staff) and made it. So I don't throw cookbooks out. I find myself using a lot, too.

Food Gal said...

I think it's hard to part with cookbooks because they are like old friends. Some we see frequently, others only now and then. Still, they're valuable in their own special way. ;)

Jemi Fraser said...

I love my cookbooks too. My favourite is a broken spine Good Housekeeping one my mom bought me for an engagement gift more than 2 decades ago :)

Julie said...

I have so many cookbooks and rarely use them. So many of my recipes come from the internet. I try to use them at least occasionally. This pasta looks delicious.

Angie's Recipes said...

I guess that happens to all of us...I too have SOME cookbooks, but use maybe just 3 or 4 books and whenever I need a recipe, I will search the web first.
This is kind of my daily pasta..simple yet so good.

a. maren said...

i've also fallen into the trap (is it a trap?) of cooking mostly from the internet. but there is nothing like sitting down with a beautiful cookbook and flipping through it. beautiful photography, dog earing the pages (i probably shouldn't but i do :)). lovely.

beautiful pasta!

Anonymous said...

I love broccoli and pasta.

I got rid of my cookbooks because I wasn't using them. They took up a lot of space. Also, some of them had been damaged by mold.

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

Mmmm, I am falling in love with this dish - it looks gorgeous :D
And I can't help it I always need a cookbook :D


Anonymous said...

I hang my head in shame to have to admit that I can't get rid of cookery books either and have a box stashed away, just because I don't have enough spare for them all. The pasta looks fabulous.
:-) Mandy

Claudia said...

I do cull through my cookbooks twice a year. But never get rid of the sentimental ones. Am de-clutering and ten years of magazines have left - so I consider that good! Love the recipe - pasta and broccoli are a match made in heaven.

Katerina said...

I, too, have a shelf full of neglected cookbooks Beth and I never seem to find the chance to make something from them! Your pasta looks very light and healthy. I love all the ingredients in it and they pair perfectly with the pasta!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on this new cookbook Beth. I too turn to Ina often for inspiration. I've just been searching on and discovered that Ina is releasing another new book in late October. Can you guess what's going on my Christmas list? I love the sound of this pasta dish -- especially with the sundried tomatoes and goat cheese.

Vicki Bensinger said...

I have so many cookbooks my husband finally devoted a large closet for my books and built me a large bookshelf to house them. I haven't looked at the Penny Whistle book in ages. If my memory is correct I think Tom Brokaws wife authors that - Meredith. Bonnie Stern Writes books with her husband, right, or am i thinking of someone else? Ina's books are wonderful. In fact I always recommend hers to my students. They're so user friendly with photos for each recipe.

This pasta looks yummy. Can't say I've tried it but will save it to try.

Beth said...

Hi Vicki,
You're right about Tom Brokaw's wife being the author of Penny Whistle (and I think the owner of the store in New York, too). Bonnie Stern is a Canadian chef and cookbook writer, and her books were some of the first I bought after I got married.

grace said...

enchanted broccoli what now?! what a tasty recipe, beth! i like my broccoli cooked to within an inch of its life and i LOVE sun-dried tomatoes. they make goat cheese completely tolerable. :)

Anonymous said...

I do a lot of blog recipes too now, but I'll never give up my cookbooks! My sister was looking for a sun dried tomato recipe that isn't a salad, so I was excited to see this!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, this looks like such a wonderful and healthy recipe and you presented it in such a lovely and colorful way! I enjoyed the way you wrote about your ever growing collection of cookbooks - aren´t we all the same, one day I swear I will never buy another cookbook, the next day, I am ordering a new one...oftentimes, they are just too wonderful to resist!

Very nice post, Beth! Have a great Thursday!

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