Linguine with Wok-Fried Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, and Crumbly Cheese

Adapted from: Vegetable Heaven
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes

You can make this colorful, family-pleasing dish on a weekday after work (especially it you take a few minutes to cut the broccoli and garlic the night before). Just put up the pasta water first, and cook the vegetables while the water is heating.

  • When cutting the broccoli, use as much of the stems as possible. Shave off the tough outer skin, and slice up the sweet, tender inner stem.
  • You can use either wine or vegetable broth in the sauce. My favorite commercially available vegetable broth is the Imagine brand, which comes in a quart box (like soy milk packaging). Look for it--it's delicious. (For more information on this product, visit
  • You also have a choice between ricotta salata (a firm, crumbly form of ricotta) and the saltier feta cheese. If you use the broth and/or the feta, add a little less salt at first, and adjust it to taste later.
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, tops cut into 1 inch florets, stems shaved and cut into matchsticks
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups small cherry tomatoes
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup dry white wine or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 to 1 pound linguine
1 cup crumbled ricotta salata or feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Dried Tomato Pesto (recipe follows)
  1. Put up a kettle of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat a medium-large wok. When it is hot, add about 2 teaspoons of the oil and the broccoli florets. Salt them lightly, and stir-fry over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until they are bright green and just tender. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Return the wok to the heat.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and when it is very hot, add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry over high heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are wilted. Add the wine or broth and the garlic, and cook for about 3 minutes. (During this time, put the pasta into the boiling water to cook.)
  3. Add the broccoli stems to the tomatoes, salt lightly, and stir-fry over high heat until they are just tender (5 minutes or so). Spoon in a little of the pasta-cooking water if you'd like it to have a little more liquid.
  4. Drain the pasta and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Transfer to a serving platter or large shallow bowl, and spoon the tomato mixture over the top. Add the cheese and some black pepper, and gently toss everything together, bringing the pasta up from the bottom as you mix. Taste to correct salt.
  5. Serve hot, garnished with the broccoli florets (from Step 1) around the edges and a few dollops of Dried Tomato Pesto on top, if desired.

Dried Tomato Pesto

Adapted from Vegetable Heaven
Preparation time: 5 minutes after the tomatoes soak
Yield: 1 1/4 cups (a little bit goes a long way)
Deeply flavored and a great shade of dark, adult red, this pesto has become my favorite version. Use it solo on hot pasta (or with some crumbled feta sprinkled in), or as an accompaniment to other pasta dishes--it adds richness without adding fat.

  • Also try it on Pizzettas, grilled vegetables, grains, beans, and/or potatoes.
  • This keeps for about a week if stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.
1 cup (2 ounces) dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup (packed) basil leaves
1/3 cup (packed) parsley
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Place the tomatoes and boiling water in a small bowl, cover with a plate, and let stand for 1 hour.
  2. Put the basil and parsley in a blender and process until feathery. Add the garlic and the tomatoes with all their water, and purée until it becomes a smooth paste.
  3. Return it to the bowl, and stir in salt and optional red pepper flakes to taste. Pour a little olive oil over the top (enough to cover the surface.) Cover tightly and refrigerate until use. Bring to room temperature before serving.
    NOTE: Replenish the layer of olive oil over the top after each use. This serves as a sealant and a preservative.
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