One of my family’s favorite dishes at the California Pizza Kitchen is a very simple plate of pasta: fusilli with sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli. It was a very simple, rustic dish with al dente pasta drizzled with tomato-infused oil, sweet, chewy, and slightly salty slivers of sun-dried tomato scattered throughout the dish with broccoli florets and diced, fresh tomato; it was always very, very good. By gum, it was so good on its own that we always said “no” whenever the server asked if we wanted to add prawns or chicken to it.
Every single time we went to CPK, we would invariably order the fusilli along with the Thai Crunch Salad and the wild mushroom pizza with refillable raspberry iced teas all around. Alas, because CPK recently revamped its menu, both the fusilli and the wild mushroom pizza are gone and nowhere to be found.
I am of the opinion that desperate times call for drastic measures. When I celebrated my birthday recently, it was the dish I craved for – but I also knew that there was no was I was going to get it unless I made it myself. This weekend, a few days after my birthday, I went and actually made it at home.
This recipe is actually one of those “make do with what you’ve got” sorts. In this case, I couldn’t find any sliced sun-dried tomatoes in oil, so I used the next best thing: sun-dried tomato pesto which, really, is quite tasty and keeps everything good, moist, and flavorful. I was lucky to find fresh broccoli at the supermarket and amped it all up with the addition of oyster mushrooms which brought a nice, almost meaty flavor to the dish. It’s the sort of thing that goes over well with both vegetarians and carnivores – and, really: I wouldn’t want to eat anything else save for a big bowl of this on an unusually hot evening.
Fusilli with Tomatoes and Broccoli
- 450 grams fusilli or fusilli tricolore, prepared according to package instructions
- 1-1/2 cups sun-dried tomato pesto
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms, shredded
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
Cook the pasta based on the package instructions, saving 1/4 cup of the cooking water; drain and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, pour in the oil. When it begins to sizzle, add the chopped onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook till the edges have browned a little. Add the mushrooms and broccoli and cook for about a minute or until the mushrooms have softened and the broccoli is crisp-tender. Pour in the reserved pasta water and pesto and mix; bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
Immediately toss in the pasta and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the diced tomato and grated cheese.