Just a few ingredients make this tender-crisp broccoli come alive!
Italian cuisine relies heavily on anchovies, but don't worry if they're not your favorites: the fillets add a lovely savory depth (known as "umami") to the recipe, but you won't taste them as such.
Blanching the broccoli spears help them retain their bright green color during the sauté stage. If you prefer not to do this extra step, plan on an extra 5 minutes or so to cook the broccoli.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes, then drain and plunge the broccoli into a bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking process and set its bright color. When the broccoli is cool, drain thoroughly and set aside. This step can be done several hours ahead of serving.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the anchovy paste, garlic and thyme, and continue cooking another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the broccoli to the skillet, raise the heat to medium-high and cover the pan. Cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your spears. Just before serving, squeeze the lemon over the broccoli, if you like. Serve hot.