Cacio e Pepe means salt and pepper in Italian, and usually refers to a simple pasta dish consisting of just Parmesan, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. We’re adding tender broccoli, burst tomatoes, and a few other twists to the mix for an unbeatable pasta dinner.
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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water with a large pinch of salt to a boil. Zest and halve the lemon. Slice one half into rounds for garnish, if desired. Mince or grate the garlic.
Add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes, until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. TIP: To preserve its bright green color, place the broccoli in a bowl of ice water after cooking.
Add the pasta to the boiling water you cooked the broccoli in and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain, reserving ¼ cup pasta water.
Toss the tomatoes on a baking sheet with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until they burst.
While the tomatoes roast, heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Add the salmon to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until just opaque in the middle. Set aside, then remove and discard the salmon skin (if desired.)
In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter, the garlic, and chili flakes (to taste, we used 1/4 teaspoon) over medium heat. Cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Toss the drained pasta, lemon zest, Parmesan, broccoli, burst tomatoes, and ¼ cup pasta water into the pan and toss to combine. Cook, tossing, for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Serve the pasta with the salmon on top and finish with a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with a lemon round, if desired, and enjoy!