Brocolli – 2 heads broccoli, chopped into small florets plus chopped stem
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Sea salt – 1/2 teaspoon
Black pepper – 1/4 teaspoon, freshly ground
Pasta shells – 4 portions
Roux (White Sauce):
Butter – 2 tablespoons
Flour – 2 tablespoons
Milk – 1/2 cup milk, added 1/4 cup at a time
Garlic – 2 tablespoons, minced
Pasta water – 1 1/4 cups warm pasta water
Parmesan cheese – 1/4 cup, grated
Sea salt – 1/2 teaspoon
Pepper – About 8 turns of the pepper mill
Breadcrumbs – 1/4 cup, (recipe for homemade breadcrumbs above)
Capers – 3 teaspoons or more
Parsley leaves – 1/4, minced fresh parsley leaves
Chilli flakes – (Optional)
Put a pot of water on the stove for cooking the pasta. Heavily salt the water, ocean-like, and bring the water to a boil while you prepare the broccoli.
Move an oven rack to the middle rung, and preheat the oven to broil on high.
Toss the broccoli, olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet and broil on high for ten minutes on the middle rack. The broccoli is done when the edges of the florets and stems are browned and crispy. Cover with foil or transfer to a closed container to keep warm.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente (ever so slightly undercooked or chewy). The pasta package should specify the time needed, or taste as it cooks.
While the pasta is cooking, make the roux. Melt the butter in a medium pan. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour just when the cube of butter finishes melting. Stir quickly and try to keep the consistency smooth (though you will inevitably have some lumps at first).
Mix in a 1/4 cup of milk and smoothen the sauce to a thicker consistency. (You can also use a whisk).
Add the garlic and stir again.
Add another 1/4 cup of milk and mix again until the sauce thickens to a smooth consistency.
Scoop out 1 1/4 cups of the starchy pasta water from the pasta pot. Now begin adding the pasta water in 1/4 cups, stirring constantly until the sauce continues to thicken, grow in quantity and become silky smooth. I ended up adding a full cup.
Add the 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and another 1/4 cup of pasta water if necessary to smooth and thin the sauce a bit, since the parmesan will thicken it up considerably and we still want the sauce to coat the pasta lavishly.
Add the salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss in the broccoli, capers and breadcrumbs (saving a few breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top of each serving).
Serve garnished with breadcrumbs and minced parsley. For an extra kick, add chili flakes.