Laurie’s Broccoli Sauce for Pasta

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

This is a recipe of sorts from the late Laurie Colwin, a novelist and editor who also wrote for Gourmet magazine. I was always deeply touched and amused by her writing. She talked about recipes in the larger context of how the preparation of food was an essential ritual of life and love. Here’s a quote to illustrate: “The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: even the simplest food is a gift.... I know that young children will wander away from the table, and that family life is never smooth, and that life itself is full, not only of charm and warmth and comfort but of sorrow and tears. But whether we are happy or sad, we must be fed. Both happy and sad people can be cheered up by a nice meal!”

Many of her essays and columns are collected in two books: Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. They were published in the early 1990s, so you may have to search for them, but they’re worth the effort! I wish that I could have known her personally but in many ways, I feel that I do.

And if you need a little more guidance than Laurie’s casual description below, here are some suggested quantities for the ingredients:


  1. 1 pound broccoli crowns (no stems)
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 large garlic cloves
  4. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  5. Juice of ½ lemon
  6. cup homemade chicken stock or your favorite canned broth, to thin sauce, if necessary
  7. 1 pound dried ziti or fusilli
  8. ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese


“Now broccoli. How some people hate it! However, it turns into a sleek, rich pasta sauce. First you steam it. Then you sauté it in dark green olive oil with two cloves of garlic until the garlic is soft. Then you toss it all in the blender with pepper, a pinch of salt, the juice of a half lemon, more olive oil and serve it on ziti or fusilli with lots of grated cheese, and no one will suspect what is being served.”