When I was in college Mary and I visited our friend Alia who was studying abroad in Florence. I am not going to bash Tuscan cuisine; all I have are good food memories from that portion of our trip, especially the lardo smeared on crunchy bread. When we headed to Rome we shamefully dined on McDonald's hash browns every morning. (Italians don't do breakfast so we weren't missing anything.)
The last leg of our journey was to Genoa, to visit some of my family. And thats where I had one of my most memorable meals that I have recreated countless times since that visit.
My Aunt Emma besides being one of the most beautiful women I know, is one of the most nurturing and caring individuals I have ever met. During summers spent in Sicily, just Rocco and I, Emma treated me like her own. Rocco would stay in campagna, the country, and I would stay in town with Emma and her family and she gave me all the love and affection and food I needed to battle the weary homesickness I endure whenever I go away, but especially as a very young girl who was away from her mother. So after not seeing Emma in over 10 years, nothing changed. She was her same lovely fun self and she prepared for us this unbelievable delicious Pasta in Creamy Broccoli Sauce that made me feel right at home again. I remember she used Gemelli, the little twisted pasta for this sauce. Mouth shovels ready? Go!
1 head of broccoli, trimmed of stalks, cut into small crowns and steamed (don't overcook)
1 shallot or 1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Peperoncino to taste
1 C. vegetable broth
1/2 C. milk or heavy cream
1/2 C. parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 lb. gemelli pasta
Sautee shallots and garlic with peperoncino in olive oil. Add the brocolli and sautee for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable broth. Reduce. Add the milk. Reduce until the sauce is a nice creamy thickness and the broccoli is broken down completely. Turn the heat off and mix in the parmesan cheese. Serve over gemelli pasta.