Cook pasta like risotto, add diced broccoli, and let them slowly melt. Colour everything in red with precious saffron powder. Enjoy this comfort pasta dish while the shy autumn sun comes in from the window.
After a long much needed time with family, I am back in London. I am slowly adjusting to the new Autumn light. Greyer skies, red London bricks, and yellow leaves.
Suddenly days are shorter, and you will find me asleep on the sofa from seven pm onwards. Autumn is when my feline nature manifests itself, so I’ll be struggling to hang around without a blanket and a pillow.
I have also gone back to the office after a crazy year and a half of working from home. I am channeling all the good vibes and thinking of this season as a new start. Preparing my backpack, I feel excitement and fear, like a child going back to school. How is going to be to see my colleagues from face to toe and no more as futuristic floating heads?
New autumn, new me?
I have even planned a new routine, including exercise. Yesterday I got started. I went for a short run, 15 minutes before passing out. I opened the Couch to 5k App and cringed a little when the app arrogantly reminded me that ‘we haven’t seen you in a while.’
My friend Inga was telling me that the start of Autumn is our second and last chance to achieve something good within the year. A second new year, new you. Let’s see what I make of it. And you, do you have any plans?
I am also hoping to have a night a week of just chill. Since I opened the blog, with work, life, and other stuff, I didn’t stop for a second. Sometimes I feel so exhausted I can barely move. I then aimlessly reach for the couch and move from one Netflix series to another.
Before I know it, it’s deep in the night with me having watched a bit of a BBC documentary as I love pretending to be a better person than I am, the first half of a drama movie before I realise I can’t cope with a fiction character complaining about their Gucci shoes, a couple of episodes of Friends till I am ashamed of myself for having watched it way too many times, and then I go for a new teen rom-com because the truth is that I am young and cool.
I decided to stop this wondering around and consequent insomnia with a mindful night a week of just chilling.
I started last Sunday. Well, it didn’t go well. It felt weird to just sit down and not do a million things at the same time. The guilt of doing nothing, who have I become?
Il dolce far niente
It’s funny as Italians have an opposite saying, il dolce far niente, ‘the sweet doing nothing’.
As I couldn’t stand still, I made pasta. I remembered this dish Riccardo’s mum used to make.
I have never eaten anything like it before trying it at her place. It’s pasta that’s cooked like risotto. It is packed with vegetables, broccoli, carrots, celery, and onion. A perfect hug to calm down and embrace il dolce far niente.
I hope she won’t mind me sharing her brilliant recipe here. She’s an excellent cook and I must say this is my favourite pasta dish.
I used orecchiette here to keep as close as possible to her original recipe. Orecchiette go so well with this type of ‘risotto cooking’ method. Orecchiette means little ears because of their funny shape, and they are an incredible pasta made in Puglia. It’s not easy to find it in the UK though.
You will need to go to an Italian deli or LIDL during their Italian week or call me up and I’ll see if I can contact my personal dealer (i.e. mum). If you can’t find them though, please don’t worry! Any short type of pasta (conchiglie, penne, and fusilli) will do.
You must try this ultimate comfort food in the first cold Autumn evenings. Slow down watching the broth evaporate, the broccoli melt, and the pasta coming together. A bit of dolce far niente at every bite, to keep on track with our autumn resolutions.
Saffron and broccoli pasta for autumn resolutionsCourse: Mains
Cook pasta like risotto, add diced broccoli, and let them slowly melt. Colour everything in red with precious saffron powder. Enjoy this comfort pasta dish while the shy autumn sun comes in from the window
900 g broccoli (fresh or frozen)
1.2 liters of water
1/2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves)
1 tsp chili flakes (or 1 fresh chili)
Extra virgin olive oil
250 g carrots (3 medium)
200 g onion (1 big)
200 g celery (3 stalks)
500 g orecchiette pasta
1/2 glass of white wine (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 vegetable stock cube
15 g saffron powder
- Boil the broccoli in 1.2 liters of salty water (use only 1/2 spoon of coarse sea salt) for 20 minutes if frozen, 15 minutes if fresh
- Mince the carrots, onion and celery with a food processor
- Fry the garlic and chili with oil in a large pan
- Add the minced vegetables and stir for 5 minutes – don’t rush this. Stir until the colours of the vegetables soften from acrylic to pastel.
- Add the uncooked pasta directly with the vegetables. I know this is weird but trust me it’ll work! We are going to cook pasta as it was a risotto.
- Add half a glass of wine and let it quickly evaporate over high heat
- Add the broccoli and 800 ml of their cooking water plus a stock cube and bay leaves
- Cook for 5 more minutes always stirring. The broccoli will dissolve into a delicious cream
- Add the remaining broccoli’s cooking water and the saffron powder. Gently stir for other 10 minutes until your pasta is al dente.
- At this point, don’t forget to remove the chili or keep it in for fun times. Add 4 spoons of grated pamesan cheese for extra creaminess.
- Serve immediately with a dash of oil and extra cheese on top.
- Be careful with the water. Slowly add it in: you can always add more but it’s impossible to take it out. Think risotto not soup.