And now I present to you what I believe to be the perfect picnic fare. I don't mind eating it room temperature or cold. Very much unlike sandwiches-- ugh, which I can't eat unless it's within 10 minutes after completion, or some salads, which are dripping wet with bacteria-loving mayonnaise. No thanks. We're still on a mission to get me eating more vegetables, and this dish is something I've been making for what must be years now. It's after California Pizza Kitchen's "original" dish.
I don't know why broccoli is one of those stereotypically disliked vegetables by children. I have always loved it. As a kid I started out eating it in Beef with Broccoli and it tasted phenomenal; later on I would eat it even just steamed with a little butter and I have no complaints. How do other families cook it? Anyway, here is a dish so idiot-proof even kids can make it, and dare I say even eat? (Recipe follows)
Prepare the vegetables: remove the broccoli florets from the stalk and separate into bite-size pieces. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into bite-size pieces (each tomato will yield 3-4 pieces) and place in a medium bowl. Mince the garlic very fine.
Bring 3 liters of water to a rolling boil. Ladle some boiling water, enough to cover the chopped tomatoes, and set aside for 10 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water pot. If using fresh broccoli, place a steamer insert on top of the pot of water and steam the broccoli for 5 minutes. If using frozen broccoli, blanch the florets for 1 minute; take out with a slotted spoon into a colander and run cold water over them. To the water, add the fusilli and cook according to package instructions (mine took 9 minutes) to reach al dente. Drain into a colander.
Drain the tomatoes. In a large pot over medium heat (I used the same pot that I used for pasta-- the heat is enough to evaporate the residual water), add the olive oil and minced garlic. Sauté for 1 minute; avoid browning the garlic. Add in the cooked broccoli, hydrated tomatoes, and thyme; sauté for a minute to get the garlic-scented oil to coat them. Add in the drained fusilli and Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Season with black pepper if desired. Continue tossing over the heat until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes more.