This is the time of year when your To-Do list resembles a military battle plan: Shopping, baking, decorating, mailing cards, parties, school concerts, church activities.
It’s long, it’s complicated, and it will take every troop in the house to reach mission accomplished by Dec. 24.
And that doesn’t even include the usual work, school and nightly dinner to fix.
But you don’t need me to remind you how busy you are. You need me to help you put dinner on the table fast.
With a little help from Buddy Valastro, also known as the Cake Boss, here’s a family-friendly recipe that even kids will enjoy. In fact, he calls it Kids’ Cavatelli with Broccoli, and it’s from Valastro’s new book, Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss (Free Press, $30). Valastro will be signing the book at Barnes and Noble, 4015 Medina Road, Bath Township, at noon Saturday, and giving a show at the Akron Civic Theatre that night.
Best part about this dish: It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and only needs two main ingredients.
KIDS’ CAVATELLI WITH BROCCOLI
4 to 5 cups broccoli florets and tender stems, from 1 large bunch of broccoli
1 lb. fresh or frozen plain (not ricotta) cavatelli
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ cup (2 oz.) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill half a large bowl with ice water.
Add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook until softer than al dente, but not mushy, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to the ice water to shock it to preserve the beautiful green color.
Let the salted water return to a simmer and add the cavatelli. Cook until they float, about 1 minute for fresh, 2 to 3 minutes for frozen. Reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking liquid in a heat-proof measuring cup, then drain the pasta in a colander.
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering, almost smoking. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, not allowing the garlic to brown or burn, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli to the pan with the pasta and toss, adding a little of the pasta’s cooking liquid if the mixture seems too dry.
Serve at once, passing the grated cheese.
Makes six servings for kids (four with two adults).