Just before this all happened, I was eating orecchiette with broccoli raab and sausage at Manducati’s Rustica (in Queens) with my three other guys, all of us old-time buddies saying hi over some pasta. One was Lars, a wine guy (he worked for Banfi for about 800 years, but in any case knows more about wine than almost anyone I’ve ever met) who’s half Italian (and speaks it, among other languages), has spent a lot of time in Italy, and is always good for a food anecdote or two. He’s especially knowledgeable about the food of Tuscany and further south – Lazio, the Marches, Calabria, Puglia, Sicily ….
This pasta at Manducati’s was good. Lars said, “You know, the broccoli raab thing is arguably even better with anchovies and garlic than it is with sausage – and that’s how everyone made it when they couldn’t afford sausage.” (For some reason, to me the most memorable Lars story is how really poor people had an anchovy hanging from a rope in their kitchens, and would wipe their bread on it for flavor. That’s cucina povera.)
We talked about this some more, he mentioned cooking the greens and the pasta in the same pot, and I remembered a Minimalist column I did with my friend Jack Bishop like twenty years ago. Jack is also (coincidentally) half Italian, and he “came up with” the idea of cooking greens and pasta in the same pot—a new idea to me at the time, and to most of my readers, and something I’ve since integrated as a habit.
Anyway, here’s the recipe. It’s simple and comforting (two things we need when everything else is everything but). Try to enjoy the weekend, and see you Tuesday.
My friend contends that pasta with broccoli is even better with anchovies than it is with sausage. I think he might be right.
We produce reported pieces, profiles, interviews, and rants about what’s broken in the food world (there’s a lot) and how to change things for the better. People sometimes tell me to just keep politics out of it. Respectfully: No. Food is political. We can’t and won’t ignore that.