We’ve added a little pancetta to this sauce, but you could easily leave it out to make it vegetarian and just add an extra tablespoon of oil. Roasting the broccoli with a little oil brings out its sweetness before you saute it. The tanginess of Pecorino cheese goes well with this sauce, but you could also use Grana Padano if that’s what you have in the house.
- 2 small heads broccoli, trimmed into small florets, tender stems peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 12 cups)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound penne
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a sheet pan on the lower rack.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Place the broccoli on the sheet pan and roast, tossing once, until charred on the edges and just tender, about 13 minutes. It will cook more in the sauce.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and cook until the fat is rendered and the pancetta begins to crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and onion and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Add 1 cup pasta cooking water, bring to a simmer, and add the roasted broccoli. Let simmer while you cook the pasta.
4. Add the penne to the boiling water. When the sauce is ready and the pasta is al dente, remove the pasta with a spider or small strainer and add directly to the sauce, along with the parsley, reserving the pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce, adding a splash of pasta water if the pasta seems dry. Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with the grated Pecorino Romano, toss, and serve.