When I was a senior in high school, I did a trimester abroad. 10 of us went to Segovia, Spain to live with separate host families for a couple of months. It was freaking awesome. We had two group teachers that lead us around the country, on top of doing daily classes. We went from the top to the bottom and all around Spain. Pretty darn cool in my opinion! I stayed with a well-to-do host mom that didn’t speak any english (well, maybe she did, be she wouldn’t to me!), and her kids were grown and gone. So I got the coolest room with a balcony. I became pretty good friends with two other kids from the group, so in the evening, when we had free time to do what we wanted, the three of us would go to the local stores and see what cool foods we could find to eat. Then we’d grab all of our goodies (including hitting up the penny candy store) and go hang out on my balcony looking over part of the city. One thing that we always got, was Manchego cheese. We would all fight over who got the last piece. That stuff is beyond amazing. Something about it is so addicting. And it was so cheap there. Those were some awesome times.
Now, Manchego cheese is a luxury. It’s pretty expensive locally. My mom, a few years back, knew of my love for the cheese and put it in my stocking for Christmas. Best present ever! My favorite way to devour it is by itself. But, when I was flipping through a cookbook and saw a pasta dish that used Manchego cheese, I just knew that I had to make it. I couldn’t pass it up!
This is a great, flavorful and simple pasta dish. It makes an easy one dish meal. The roasted broccoli and garlic make a wonderful addition. And who doesn’t love almonds with pasta? Any excuse to add nuts is fine with me! The Manchego cheese adds a wonderful twist of flavor to the dish. I just wish I had had some left over to eat for myself!
Recipe barely adapted from The Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen
- 2 garlic heads, top sliced off to expose cloves
- 6 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 pounds broccoli
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 pound pasta
- 1 ounce Manchego cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 2-3 Tablespoons dried
- 1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds, toasted
- Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Drizzle the exposed garlic cloves with 1/2 teaspoon oil each and wrap tightly in tinfoil. Place in the preheated oven directly on a rack, and roast until the the garlic is tender, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool before unwrapping. Carefully squeeze the cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Mash with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Toss with remaining 2 Tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sugar in a bowl. Place on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven. Roast until the broccoli is well browned and tender, 20-30 minutes.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add broccoli, garlic sauce, 1/2 cup Manchego, basil and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper and extra lemon juice to taste. Add more reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve into bowls and sprinkle with almonds and remaining Manchego cheese. Serve warm.