When the first of this season’s broccoli was available in the farmer’s market this week I was overjoyed. I know broccoli is one of those love/hate vegetables, but mainly it is because it can be overcooked.
While doing pasta for mac n cheese a while ago, I thought, “I don’t wanna make an extra pot dirty to blanch the broccoli to fold into it.” So I threw the broccoli florets into the pasta water along with the pasta. I generally let the pasta cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the broccoli to the water. When the pasta is done, the broccoli is perfectly cooked. This method also works great for green beans or cauliflower.
The bonus of this method in the blazing heat of summer is you only have one pot heating on the stove and it’s done in 10 minutes.
I thought, today, I’d do a pasta salad and I wanted to use some of the wonderful fresh broccoli I got and garlic scapes. They’re like green beans with a built in garlic flavour. So I could use that method I just described to cook everything.
I initially thought I’d roast some peppers for a dressing but didn’t want to heat up the kitchen anymore than I needed so I decided to use carrots. The interesting thing is, the dressing turned a brilliant orange that when it was folded into everything, it made the salad look like broccoli mac n cheese. It’s funny how things work sometimes.
Garlic Broccoli Pasta Salad with Carrot Yogurt Dressing
For the Carrot Yogurt Dressing:
1-1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Place all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.
For the salad:
6 cups cooked pasta (I used baby shell shaped pasta but any short pasta will work)
1/2 cup fresh broccoli stalks, finely chopped, blanched in pasta water
2 cups fresh broccoli florets, cut into rough 2cm/1″ pieces, blanched in pasta water
1/4 cup garlic scapes, cut into 2cm/1″ pieces, blanched in pasta water
1 cup cooked chicken, cut into 3cm (1-1/2″) pieces
Reserved Carrot Yogurt Dressing
In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta, broccoli stalks and florets, garlic scapes and chicken. Fold in the Carrot Yogurt Dressing. Serves 4-6.