Pasta, Cheese and Trees My Mama's Way

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  • 4Servings


  • 1 pound broccoli tops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound pasta: penne rigate, corkscrew cavatappi, elbows or medium shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut up (tablespoons are marked on the wrapper)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped by a GH (Grown-Up Helper)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese


Have the GH put a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Separate the broccoli into small trees by pulling them apart. Ask your GH to trim off the woody stems of your trees so you can break them up right. Put the broccoli florets (trees) into a pot and have the GH add water enough to just cover the tops. The GH should bring the water to a boil and add 4 pinches salt to the water; you can count for them. The broccoli should cook about 5 minutes once the water comes to a boil. Then have your GH drain it.

When the pasta water boils, have them put 4 pinches of salt into the pot and add pasta. Cook to al dente (that's Italian for "done but still with a bite to it"), according to package directions.

Pour oil and butter into a deep frying pan and let the GH heat it up over low heat. When the butter melts, they can add the garlic and cook it 5 minutes. Have the GH add the broccoli to the garlic.

Have the GH drain the pasta and add to broccoli. Add the ricotta and grated cheese, and have the GH stir it all up in the big frying pan. Add a little salt and pepper and taste the pasta and trees to see how the seasoning is.