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May 05, 2011

Leftovers: Deep-fried almonds over broccoli, garlic, and pecorino-romano

I've been making a concerted effort to eat more vegetables this year.  I'm also trying to eat these vegetables without a whole lot of other stuff covering them up, because that kinds of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?

I actually like vegetables, so it's not like this is a huge challenge.  I'm just trying to eat more of them, as well as a varied amount of vegetables.  One in particular I have never really liked is broccoli.  The only way I choked it down in high school was with 47,000 cups of melted Cheez-Wiz on top.  So, yeah.  Not exactly an option for me now.

But broccoli is inexpensive, and something I feel like I should like.  I finally found ways to make cauliflower that doesn't make me gag.  So, I think it's time for me to find a way to make broccoli and enjoy it.

So, I put a little something out on Twitter the other night:

Picture 1

And boy, did the responses fly on in.  Tons of great ideas, most of which involved roasting the broccoli in olive oil, salt and pepper, and various other seasonings (cumin, red pepper flakes, curry powder, etc.)  There were lots of variations and combinations.  SO many great ideas.

So, I started with the basics and wanted to see what broccoli tasted like if I roasted it at a high temperature in just olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Oh, and garlic, because you can't go wrong with garlic.  And shallots.  Because I had them here.  So here's what I did:

1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets; tossed in a bowl with a generous amount of olive oil and kosher salt; more ground pepper than you might ordinarily do; 3 cloves of garlic, chopped; one small shallot lobe, chopped.  And a teaspoon of duck fat.  Because everything is better with duck fat.  (but seriously, you can do this without duck fat; I just happened to have it on hand)

I put this mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet and roasted it in a 425F-degree oven for 30 minutes.  While it was roasting, I noticed I had some leftover deep-fried almonds from the "Porcini, cherry, toasted garlic, almond" dish.  So, I chopped those, and used them to top the broccoli when it came out of the oven.

I also shaved some pecorino-romano on top.  And, I sprinkled the last of the ham powder from that Porcini dish, too.

And, you guys?

I now really, really, really like broccoli:


The heads got all dark brown, crispy, and toasty.  The stalky part was crunchy and delicious.  Didn't taste like broccoli at all.  You know what I mean, right?  Like, you know how farty and pungent broccoli can taste when you just steam it or blanch it?  Yeah, that.  This tasted NOTHING LIKE THAT, and I now love broccoli, and I'll be buying it every week and doing variations on this theme.

And, for dessert?

MORE LEFTOVERS from the Porcini dish!

Leftover almond milk ice cream and some wine-soaked pineapple chunks, a little bit of 2% milk, and a handful of ice cubes.  Whacked it in the blender for 30 seconds.

A fruity, smooth, nutty milkshake.

Alinea leftovers are awesome.  Awesome, awesome, awesome...


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I love how sometimes leftovers provide the most opportunity for reinvention and creativity. Those nuts sound like they would be FABULOUS over broccoli. I have to admit, I'm totally in the cheese sauce over broccoli camp, though I do a homemade chese sauce over cheese wiz.

It's amazing what high heat can do to make me like vegetables. I'm not a broccoli fan either, but what you just suggested in this post? I'm doing tonight.

Better than broccoli? *Chinese* broccoli, aka /gai lan/. It's leafy, has small heads, thin stalks, and more flavor than ordinary "baby trees" without being as bitter as rabe/rapini.

A sautee with garlic, and a little oyster sauce or kecap manis (thick sweet soy), and it's outstanding. It's my go-to to enhance cheap ramen, and a required ingredient in paad see-ew (your spelling may vary).

Very inspiring post! I was reading along thinking, "I can do this, EASY!" I don't have the cheese or almonds lying around, but I can definitely make my own version of this. Thanks for the shove in the right direction. :-)

Please ignore if you are no longer looking for suggestions, but my recent favorite broccoli dish is a soup from Cook's Illustrated. The key to this dish is that you need to simmer the broccoli in chicken (or whatever) stock past the sulfurous, gross point. It takes about an hour, but you can cut it down to 20-30minutes if you add baking soda to the water. I cooked it up with onion and garlic and then stirred in sour cream and good cheddar off the heat, blitzed the hell out of it and holy crap. Healthiest meal ever, and so good.

Ham powder, pecorino and deep fried almonds would help almost anything! Love roasted veggies. Brussels sprouts are the most recent favorite because, like broccoli, roasting crisps and mellows it deliciously.

I like the flavor of broccoli, but I can't stand the texture of cooked florets. It just feels like a wad of fabric in my mouth. So, I much prefer broccoli rabe because the florets are so much smaller and less spongey. I'm trying to grow my own this year, so hopefully I'll have a good crop in a couple of months.

Looks like you have a ton of suggestions for broccoli, so here's one for cauliflower: break up or cut up the cauliflower until they are as small as possible, like fine gravel. Toss with a little salt, peanut oil and a small amount of sesame oil then pan roast them until they are tender on the inside and golden on the outside. Toss in some chopped nuts and garlic toward the end so they brown without burning. Plate as you would normally plate couscous. I like the flavor of sesame oil with the cauliflower, but you could probably use hazelnut or walnut oil added toward the end so the flavor doesn't break down too much.

I don't have ham powder, either, but I bet some finely chopped bacon would substitute nicely.

I am never comfortable leaving links to a specific post in my blog, I think it's a bit of a faux pas, non? :-)

Anyway, I make a stove-top version of the "blasted broccoli" concoction that became a favorite in our home from the first time I tried it.

If you want to take a look at the "recipe' (it is so ridiculously simple it barely meets the definition of recipe), take a look at my blog and search for basted broccoli.

HOpe you try it sometime...

If you'd like another way to go? Best. Omelet. Ever.

You need three elements. Ok, eggs is four. First, take a piece of gluten-free bread (I promise, it will be fine; I make this with low-carb bread, and gluten-free can't be any worse), cut it into weeny 1/4" cubes, and brown them in a little olive oil till they're crisp. Set aside.

Take some feta or chevre, and crumble it into crumbles. Add to the croutons.

Now, the broc: Slice up a large onion, pretty thin. Cut some broc -- hell, use the whole head -- into wee chunks or slices, whatever's easiest. Pour quite a bit of olive oil into a pan, maybe 1/4 cup or even more. Add the onions and cook over low heat until they start to get translucent. Now add the broc, keep the heat LOW LOW LOW, and cook forever until the broc is as limp as a...ahem, a limp thing. Drain (reserve the oil and use for something delicious).

Make an omelet in the usual way, and fill with the croutons, cheese, and long-cooked broccoli and onion mixture. Unbelievably delicious. And nearly as good without the croutons and even without the cheese, should you choose to go that route.

FWIW, this is my adaptation of a Fran McCullough recipe that is itself an adaptation of a recipe from Anna Rosenzweig.

btw carol, you can do this with basically all the members of the broccoli family, e.g. brussels, kohlrabi, kale, cauliflower, etc.

I had a dish that was similar to what you just made at a fantastic gastro pub in London called Great Queen Street... only it had pine nuts, sultanas, and manchego. delicious - the best broccoli i've ever had (ok, it was romesco, but tastes the same)

Alice Waters's long-cooked broccoli recipe is the best for both neutralizing the pungency and altering the texture. It's in her indispensable and Most Excellent book Vegetables, which I refer to almost as much as the Alinea cookbook (kidding!).

The end result is crumbly and uses the broccoli almost more as a thickening base for the seasoning. Remember that recent episode of Top Chef Masters where James Oseland yells at the Grubstreet kid about how Traci actually *cooked* the vegetables? Long-cooked broccoli is the prime example of what he's talking about. :)

If it is just the processed thing.... Cheez Whiz is wheat-free, actually. (And yes, I do have a jar and I went to look - any thickener in there is corn based, as is the trashy canned nacho sauce I also have).

And you need to do roasted brussels sprouts. Nothing like the bitter boiled versiom.

I just tried the roasted broccoli. It worked very well! I didn't have the Alinea-style almonds but found a tasty rosemary and olive oil almond at the grocery store (Planter's brand - I was surprised!).

Those are some great ideas for broccoli! I love roasted vegetables in general - will have to try adding the ingredients you did.

If you like broccoli then try Kai Lan, or Chinese broccoli, as it's more commonly known. Just steam it, shock in ice water, reheat and serve with oyster sauce. My favourite Chinese side dish. If the colour green had a taste then Kai Lan would be it!

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