I have very particular feelings about condiments. These may verge a bit on condiment OCD.
Growing up, I refused to eat — in no particular order — mayo, mustard, relish, chutney. And mushrooms. Not a condiment, I know, but it was something I refused to eat. My burgers were dry except for ketchup and that was just fine with me. Except, oddly, McDonald’s hamburgers with their thin scraping of yellow mustard. Somehow that was OK with me.
Nowadays, things have relaxed slightly. I still ask for no mayo, if it’s just straight-up, out-of-the-jar, spread. Bring on the pesto, lemon, dill, herb, curry variations. I won’t go out of my way to add relish or mustard, but I enjoy them on my burger. (Oh god, when I decided to finally try a White Spot burger — the real ones from B.C., not these faux Alberta versions —and had the Triple O sauce? Damn, that is good condiment.)
(Ketchup is good, but belongs only on fries, hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages. That is all.)
And the turning point may have been Mustard-butter Broccoli Pasta.
Until I had this, I was certain I didn’t like Dijon mustard. I was wrong. Oh, so, very wrong.
This is a wonderful summer pasta, partly because of the bright colour and fresh taste, but also because it requires but one pot. And, if you’re quick on the ball and plan ahead, you can use the summer heat to soften butter, which is one of the “sauce” ingredients. Of course, if you’re a bit forgetful (like me), there is always the microwave. That said, softening the butter naturally is much tastier. (Full disclosure: I have used Becel to make this and it’s still good.)
My Mum first made this many, many years ago, then photocopied it for me while I lived for a summer in Kitimat with her own notes neatly written out in red pen. And this recipe has become one of those comfort ones that has followed me as I lived in teeny-tiny towns across B.C., slogging my way through jobs at teeny-tiny newspapers, and over to Japan where I lived for a year. Sure, finding Dijon was tricky, but it was doable. And, more importantly, it was worth it.
I like to use penne with this because then it’s super easy to eat, plus the penne rigate’s ridges pick up more sauce. Of course, the big carriers are the broccoli spears; they become sponges for the mustard-butter sauce. And, frankly, I’ll use whatever pasta I have on hand. Case in point: tonight’s dinner was farfalle.
I’ve made some changes from the original recipe, so this is the version as I make it.
Mustard-butter Broccoli Pasta
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 tbsp. Dijon mustard (I use generic — gasp! — Safeway brand. I like it better than Grey Poupon.)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I use my lovely, lovely rasp.)
- Salt and pepper
- Herbs (chives, parsley or green onion tops), about 4 tbsp. total (And if I don’t have them, I don’t worry about it.)
- 2 or 3 cups broccoli florets, from two crowns
- 3/4 pound pasta
Let the butter soften, then mix in the mustard, herbs and pepper. Check for seasonings before adding more salt. Set a huge pot of water on the stove to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, season liberally with salt, then add the pasta. Cut the broccoli florets off the stem and set aside. When the pasta is about two or three minutes from being cooked to al dente, throw in the broccoli and stir to let it cook with the pasta. Drain when the pasta is tender and the broccoli is still green. Throw back into the pot and stir in the mustard-butter mixture. The heat from the cooked pasta and broccoli will melt the butter mixture. Check for seasonings and serve.
Note: I usually hold back some of the mustard-butter. Often you won’t need all of it. But when I put away the leftovers in containers, I spoon a bit of the mixture on top. That way, when you reheat it the next day (or whenever) in the microwave, it’s still a bit saucy.