Spring Winter Salads and Vegetables Pasta

Purple sprouting broccoli with penne


When I’m cooking dinner for myself, I want something quick and completely delicious, but easy to pull together. The umami quality that the anchovies bring makes this taste so satisfying; and most of the ingredients will already be in the store cupboard. To make this really well, make sure the sauce is strongly seasoned before adding it to the pasta (which will absorb some of its flavour). The cooking water is crucial here too – a few splashes added as you stir the pasta into the sauce will transform this into a juicy, cohesive dish. The crunchy crumbs are optional but I like the toothsome texture they bring.


This recipe originally appeared in The Observer Magazine’s 20 Best Recipes, Meals for one




150g (small bunch) purple sprouting broccoli

Olive oil for frying

½ garlic clove, peeled and chopped

3 salted anchovy filets, roughly chopped

½ tsp dried chilli (or to taste)

Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g (or a double handful) penne

1tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

For the breadcrumbs:

1tbsp olive oil

3tbsp breadcrumbs


Serves 1


  • To cook the breadcrumbs: heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and fry until golden. Season well with salt then set aside.
  • Cook the broccoli in masses of well salted, boiling water for 2-3 minutes until tender. Scoop it out and set aside to cool slightly. Leave the pot of water on the stove to cook the pasta in later.
  • Roughly chop the broccoli.
  • Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan. Add the garlic and anchovy and cook gently so the anchovy melts into the oil and the garlic  starts to colour. Add the chopped broccoli, a pinch of salt, chilli and a splash of the cooking water. Leave this to bubble away, occasionally mashing it with a wooden spoon, while you cook the pasta.
  • Top up your pot of water if necessary and bring to a rolling boil. Taste for salt and add more if it doesn’t taste properly saline. Cook the pasta for a minute less than the packet instructions state. Drain the pasta, making sure you keep at least a mug of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot, along with a splash of the water and some EVOO.


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