Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, trim and cut up the stems and head of the broccoli. Rinse and set aside.
In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil.
Sauté the chopped garlic for 1-2 minutes.
Add the anchovies and mash them together with a fork or the back of a spoon into a smooth paste.
If using, add red pepper flakes.
Add the bite-sized pieces of broccoli to the pan and saute for 3-5 minutes.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
Transfer about 1 cup of the pasta water to the skillet to cook the broccoli a little more. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add more pasta water if necessary. Do not allow skillet to become dry. Make sure to taste so that you have the right texture.
As the cavatelli pasta float to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the skillet with the broccoli.
Add another ladle of pasta water, along with ½ cup of Pecorino Romano Cheese. Turn off the heat and quickly stir to combine.
Then gently toss the pasta and the broccoli together in the pan. Continue tossing and stirring for 1-2 minutes. The extra liquid will be absorbed by the pasta. Conversely, add a little pasta water if the mixture appears dry.
Top with extra cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if using.
Use both the head and the stalk of broccoli.
Although anchovies provide lots of character and flavor to this dish, it is totally optional.
The tossing of the pasta in the skillet creates a silky sauce.
Cavatelli can be replaced with any short pasta that can scoop up the pasta sauce. Orechiette and small pasta shells are great alternatives.
Nutrition Note:Not only are anchovies high in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, they also contain the least amount of harmful chemicals (like mercury).Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.