Pasta with broccoli is a common dish in Italy, where it is usually flavoured with garlic and chilli. In this penne with broccoli & sweet potato recipe, the broccoli is mashed in a blender and served with small chunks of delicious sweet potato, adding extra nutrients and colour to the dish. It makes a healthy combination, which goes really well with wholemeal (wholewheat) pasta. If you prefer, you can substitute the wholemeal penne with white-flour penne.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta, broccoli and sweet potato. Cook until the broccoli is tender, 4–5 minutes. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain in a colander. Continue to cook the pasta and sweet potato, until the pasta is al dente, 8–10 minutes (check the instructions on your packet).
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the garlic and chilli, and sweat for about 30 seconds. Add the drained broccoli and stir-fry for 1 minute or so.
Remove from the heat and transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor. Add a further splash of olive oil and the grated Parmesan and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the frying pan.
Drain the pasta and sweet potato, reserving some of the cooking water. Add to the broccoli mixture, mix well and heat through, together with a little of the reserved cooking water, if needed. Serve with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan, if desired.