I haven’t really featured any meat on this blog yet, and for a very good reason: I’m a vegetarian.
And what’s more, I’m one of those weird vegetarians who was born into a family of meat-eaters and rejected the idea – not because I’m all for hugging animals, but because I simply don’t like the taste.
The other day, though, I had a few friends over for dinner (obviously to show off my new-found skills in the kitchen) and was told quite clearly that while they were very fond of me, there would have to be meat.
So here’s the problem: since I’ve never cooked meat, I don’t know what to do with it. Sure, I could scour the internet for recipes but the bottom-line is that I would probably have no idea to tell when it was cooked through. Even worse, since I don’t eat it, I can’t really taste the recipe while it’s on the stove or just out of the oven to check whether the seasoning et all is alright. Really, I have no idea what to do with meat.
So I made this spaghetti.
If there’s one thing I learned in college (from a bunch of perpetually-drunk teenage girls who were always hungry) it’s that if you can’t cook meat, you can still make something pretty amazing with sausage. Sausage is forgiving. There is practically no way to go wrong with this. And the sausage in this spaghetti came pre-infused with cheese, garlic and chives so I figured there was absolutely no chance in hell I’d mess this up.
Normally, assumptions like that end up with me curled up in a fetal position on the kitchen floor, crying and covered in flour and dried bits of egg. But this time, irony decided to be nice to me. I never tasted the spaghetti but was told (on good authority) that I could heave a sigh of relief – it was good.
Broccoli and Sausage Spaghetii
250 g pre-packaged spaghetti
16 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp of butter
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp crushed red chilli flakes
1 cup grated cheese of your choice (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the spaghetti:
Tip the spaghetti into a large bowl, fill to the brim with water and add a generous handful (yes, I said handful) of salt.
Crush two garlic cloves into the bowl
Bring to a boil and then simmer it till it’s done. It should take between 10 and 15 minutes. Pull out strands to taste, so that you’ll know when you want to take it out – this recipe will probably be better with more of a bite.
Once it’s done, drain the water, add a tablespoon of olive oil and toss it so each strand is coated. This will prevent the spaghetti from turning into a sticky, congealed mass that looks like white brain. Set aside.
For the broccoli:
Chop off the florets and soak them for a minute.
Tip them into a pan and fill with water till all the pieces are covered. Add two teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil.
Let it simmer until the broccoli has turned bright green and softened a little (around 5 minutes). Then, take out the florets and drain them.
In a wok or large skillet, heat two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil until very hot. Finely chop five cloves of garlic and fry till soft and brown. Then, add a tablespoon of red chilli flakes and the broccoli. Saute it for a while, then add some salt and cover it.
The broccoli will start to bleed water as soon as it’s in the pan. Cook it till all the water has evaporated, turning it around so the florets get evenly browned. When it’s done, sprinkle some more salt on it and keep aside.
For the sausage:
Chop the sausage into bite sized chunks.
Repeat what you did with the broccoli: same amount of butter, olive oil, garlic, red chilli flakes and salt. Cook until the sausage is brown (but what do I know?).
For the sauce:
The sauce I used was a traditional aglio olio recipe: heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in the wok, add 4 cloves of chopped/crushed garlic, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of dried red chilli. In a few minutes, the garlic will turn crisp and the oil would have absorbed all the delicious flavours.
Toss together the spaghetti, broccoli and sausage with the aglio olio sauce. You might want to add more salt; you’ll definitely want to add the crushed pepper. If you want a little more fat in the dish (since all that butter and olive oil wasn’t enough), grate some cheese over it and toss again.