A baked pasta casserole with broccoli and mozzarella. A simple and filling dish that is easy to make and very tasty.
Set a pot of water to boil. When the water boils, add salt and the pasta. Check the suggested cooking time on the pasta package and cook the pasta for half of that time. This is very important in order to prevent the noodles from overcooking. When the pasta is done - halfway through normal cooking time - drain and run the cooked pasta under cold water to quickly bring it to room temperature. Season with olive oil and set aside.
Clean and cut the broccoli into thin slices, florets and stem altogether. The thinner the slices, the quicker it will cook. Add the sliced broccoli, butter and 100 ml water to a pot and set on high heat. Keep covered and stir occasionally in order to distribute the melting butter all around. When the water reaches boiling temperature, lower the heat and keep steaming the broccoli with the lid on for a few more minutes. Remove the broccoli from the heat when tender but still bright green.
Transfer steamed broccoli to a tall container and add the creme fraiche and the parmigiano. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. The parmigiano should give some flavour to this mash, but add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
Combine the cooked pasta, broccoli purée and diced mozzarella and give it all a good stir to ensure all the pasta gets nicely coated in broccoli purée. Transfer to a casserole dish and sprinkle remaining Parmigiano on the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes at 200°C with the broil setting.
Girandole have a very short cooking time, so using this type of pasta for this recipe means a pretty short time. If using fusilli, farfalle or any other kind of pasta, the preparation of the noodles may take a bit longer. Still it is very important to cook the pasta for half of the suggested time and always rinse it with cold water to quickly lower its temperature and stop the cooking.