Penne Con I Broccoli – Penne with Broccoli

Penne with Broccoli


This is our second recipe from our cookbook “Italy, The Beautiful Cookbook”, and one that my daughter chose.  I wasn’t very surprised, as she loves broccoli, but then I read the rest of the ingredients and thought, she obviously only read the title.  I was quite perplexed at the combination of ingredients as well, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, raisins, anchovies, pine nuts…….in my brain, these ingredients really shouldn’t go together.  But they did, marvelously well, and we were all really surprised.  My hubs mentioned that he felt that it was because there were really no overpowering flavors, it was just the right amount of each ingredient for it to be harmonious, delicate even!

This recipe is from the southern Italian region of Apulia (Puglia).  As the south of Italy was conquered and influenced by the Arabs, this recipe started to make more sense, it was an obvious melange of Arabic and Italian cooking!  The use of savoury and sweet is very Arabic, hence the pine nuts and raisins, but then combining it with broccoli, tomatoes, garlic and anchovies is redolent of southern Italian cooking.  Many of you will want to omit the anchovies, as I know that not everyone is on that bandwagon, but I ask you to try it out, if my daughter, who hates all things fishy, couldn’t tell and was waxing poetic about this recipe, I am positive you won’t either.  Because the recipe calls for you to mash it and then fry it in the olive oil with the garlic, it basically melts in the oil, and adds just a hint of salt and umami to the dish.  If you are still hesitant, reduce the amount, but don’t leave it out!

So here is what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can (1lb/500g) whole, peeled tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 head broccoli

500g Penne pasta

6 anchovy fillets in oil, mashed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

Grated Pecorino cheese

Soak the raisins in lukewarm water to cover until needed.  Heat half the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for about an hour to reduce the sauce.

Meanwhile, separate the broccoli into florets and stems.  Peel and slice the stems.  Drop into a saucepan of boiling water and cook until the penne are al dente.

Fry the anchovy fillets gently with the garlic and pine nuts in oil, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add to the tomato sauce.  Mix in the strained raisins, broccoli florets and a spoonful of the cooking water from the pasta, cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender, stirring frequently.

Add the strained penne to the skillet, and raise the heat to high, stirring frequently to incorporate all the sauce.  Serve immediately with the grated Pecorino cheese.

From my kitchen to yours,


Empanada Gallega de Atun: Savory Tuna Stuffed Pastry from Galicia

When I first moved to Barcelona, I was very wary about tuna empanadas.  I come from Colombia, where we have beef, chicken, or cheese empanadas, but never tuna.  And also, the format is individual style, as opposed to this baked “pie” version.

But, as time went by, this was served at parties, as a tapa, or as a main course.  And when I tried it, I fell in love.  I love that the tuna stays moist and tender because of the sofrito.  And I thought that it was going to taste overly fishy, since the tuna is cooked.  But no, what I found was this delectable, moist and utterly delicious pastry.  The only problem, is that you can get really bad ones more than you get really, really good ones.

So I decided to make my own.  When you read the recipe, you might think, that is A LOT of oil.  But don’t worry.  Once you finish cooking the veggies, you use the oil for the dough, to give it that wonderful reddish color.

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the pieced out portions, since my fabulous oven decided to act up again, and the top of the crust baked beautifully, but apparently it didn’t feel like cooking the underside.  I think I am going to have to ask my landlord for a new oven.

But, in my house nothing is thrown away.  We ate the top and the filling, and it was delicious!  But that just doesn’t make a pretty picture.

Anyhow, so here’s what you’re going to need:

For the “Sofrito”:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup oil from your tuna can

2 small onions, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp Pimenton or Sweet Paprika

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp Italian parsley, minced

500 g good quality tin tuna

20 anchovy stuffed olives halved (if you can’t find those, pimento stuffed olives will do)

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)

For the dough:

600 g flour

30 g instant yeast

300 ml warm water

12 tbsp oil, from your sofrito (this will give the dough a fantastic color)

2 pinches of salt

1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 220 C (415 F).  In a large frying pan, heat the oil over low heat.  Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until just softening.  Add the red pepper, cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the green pepper, tomatoes, pimenton, salt and raise the heat to medium.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t brown or burn.

When the veggies are very soft, strain the vegetables and reserve the oil.  You’re going to use it for the dough.  Let them cool a bit and add the parsley, tuna, black peppers and olives.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, add your flour.  Make a well in the center and add the yeast water.  With the hook attachment, mix on low until just incorporated.  Add the oil and salt and mix on medium speed to incorporate, and then mix on low for about 10 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and glossy.

Let the dough rest in the bowl, covered with a dish towel for about an hour.

Dust a clean work surface with flour, and place your dough on top.  Cut in half, one is going to be the top and the other the bottom.  From the one that you are going to make the top out of, cut off a small plum sized piece, and reserve for later.

Roll out your bottom (larger piece) into a rectangle that is 2mm thick (or circle if that is the dish you are using) to fit your baking dish.  Grease your baking dish with some oil, and place the rolled out dough into it.  The dough should hang over the sides.  Add the tuna mix, and top with the sliced egg.

Now roll out your top dough, 2mm thick.  Cut the over hanging edges, and fold over and press to seal.   Then make a hole in the center to let the steam out, and decorate with the remaining pieces of dough.  Glaze the top with egg wash.

Bake in a 200 C (400 F) oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool slightly before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,