Roast your broccoli for rich flavor
A little effort and a couple of hours in the oven produce a dish with versatility.
My grandmother cooked vegetables until there was no fight left in them, especially broccoli. She served it with plenty of melted butter and a squirt of lemon, and it melted right into the mashed potatoes.
So the notion of “tender crisp,” which works fine for carrots, kale, peas and asparagus, never seemed right for broccoli, with its much more aggressive flavor. Inspired by my grandmother’s approach, I’ve come up with another way to cook broccoli that also works well with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other crucifers.
Most broccoli recipes advise blanching before adding the broccoli to a stir-fry or braise. But really, what’s the point? Broccoli contains enough water that it will steam naturally without additional liquid if sautéed in a little oil or butter to keep it from sticking and then covered for a few minutes before going into the oven. Using this oven method, broccoli can be cooked far past the tender-crisp stage to become meltingly silky in texture, with a deep, rich flavor. It is transformed into a completely different vegetable that works beautifully with sharp, hot, spicy or pungent accents. While the method requires long, slow cooking time, it asks nothing of the cook once it’s set in the oven.
The simple technique yields a dish with terrific versatility. It’s great tossed with pasta and a little Parmesan cheese, or served on polenta or grilled bread, or arranged on pizza. It makes a great side dish for grilled or roasted chicken, pork and lamb, a filling for lasagna, a bonus in soup.
Roasted broccoli does not freeze well, but will keep nicely for about a week in the refrigerator.
But in this kitchen, it’s never lasted that long.
Recipe : Slow-Cooked Broccoli
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: This technique also produces delicious results with Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Feel free to try different flavors after it’s cooked. Try drizzling it with a little balsamic vinegar instead of lemon, or substitute Cheddar cheese for the Parmesan. From Beth Dooley.
• 2 bunches (about 2 to 2 1/4 lb.) broccoli
• 1/4 c. olive oil
• 3 garlic cloves, cut in half
• Generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• 2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese or more to taste
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cut the florets off the broccoli. Peel the stems and cut them into thick slices, about 1/2-inch thick.
Put the olive oil and garlic into a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle add the broccoli and generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Season the broccoli with a little salt and pepper and stir well.
Cover the skillet and place in the oven to cook for about 2 hours, removing to stir once or twice, but trying not to break up the broccoli. It will be very tender when ready. Drizzle the broccoli with lemon juice and season to taste with more salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 140 Fat 10 g Sodium 83 mg
Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 2 g Calcium 102 mg
Protein 5 g Cholesterol 2 mg Dietary fiber 4 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 2 fat.