Broccoli and Garlic Penne

I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. It’s crunch time in my final year of university and it feels like life won’t allow me to breathe. But the funny thing is, every time I’m free from my scholarly obligations, my mind drifts to something much more uncomfortable and scary.

I graduate in two months. For the first time in 16 years, I’m going to be able to choose what I want to do with my life, and frankly, this scares the hell out of me.

I’d like to able to say that I have a plan, or at least a vague idea of what I want to do after I graduate, but I don’t. The thing is, I’ve grown up around people who settle for whatever comes their way first, and I’ve seen how unhappy they are because of it. But to get what I want, or what I think I want, I have to take a risk, and that’s something I’ve never really done.

I applied for jobs I really wanted and got shot down. I then applied for jobs I didn’t want, and got shot down again. I’m beginning to feel like maybe it’s just not in the cards for me, that all I can ever attain to be is ordinary.

And it’s not that bad, really. I could get a cozy little apartment in town with my boyfriend, just blocks away from my office. We could decorate our first Christmas tree together, get married and have kids, all before I reach the age of 30. I wouldn’t have to live off Kraft Dinner for a year or survive in a cramped rat-infested apartment, the way people always claim to have done before their big break. Best of all, I wouldn’t have to fail.

As tempting as this life is, I know it won’t make me happy. Because no matter how pretty my wedding dress is or how good my job benefits are, I will always ask myself the same question: ‘what if?’

What if it takes turning down a perfectly fine job to get what I really want? What if I have to move out of my comfort zone in order to move into something better?

These are the things that race through my mind when I’m walking home from school or cleaning my apartment. They take over my life when I let them, paralyzing me so that I can’t actually do what I need to.

But then there are times, those rare fleeting moments, when everything settles, and I think that maybe, just maybe, everything will turn out right. It’s these simple little times that get me through the day, the everyday pleasures that remind me why I’m here and what I’m supposed to do.

It’s the sound of my cat purring when I rub under her fuzzy little chin, reassuring me that my sole duty in this world is to make her happy. Tonight, it was the sheer satisfaction of making a recipe to perfection, for the very first time.

This broccoli and garlic penne is exquisite. It’s simple, requires very few ingredients, and takes under a half hour to make. Best of all, it is absolutely delicious, and it leaves plenty of left-overs for tomorrow’s lunch. Freshly grated parmesan is a must for this recipe. I’ve tried the canned stuff, and it’s just not the same.


large saucepan
medium saucepan
wooden spoon
cutting board
large knife


1 lb penne
2 heads broccoli
3/4 cup olive oil
10 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper


In a large saucepan, cook penne according to package instructions until al dente. Once done, drain in a colander and run under cold water.

Cut broccoli florets into small pieces. Bring medium saucepan to a boil. Add broccoli and boil for two minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towel or a clean dish cloth.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute or until edges are brown, shaking the pan often. Add cooked and drained broccoli to the skillet and stir well. Sprinkle with some pepper and cook for two minutes, stirring often. Add penne and butter to the skillet. Stir well, until all ingredients are mixed together. Cook for four minutes.

Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.


One thought on “Broccoli and Garlic Penne

  1. This sounds amazing and a snap to make Gluten Free, just use Tinkyada (my favourite brand) brown rice penne instead of the regular wheat pasta. The trick will be to sneak the parmesan cheese past my husband! 😉 He can only think of the stinky stuff in the can and won’t try the fresh grated! I agree, a WORLD of difference! Also I found it intersting that you would boil the broccoli instead of steam it???

    For what it’s worth I hope you and TJ will stay in Freddy and find your niches in amazing places where you’ll no doubt do much good (and in TJ’s case) interesting things! 😉

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