I just got home from a 10-day trip and realized I had left a Costco-sized bag of broccoli in my fridge which needed immediate attention. Now most people I know (including the ones I regularly cook for) are not thrilled about a side of plain, steamed broccoli nestled up next to their protein. I have learned to be inventive in preparing this superfood — packed as it is with powerhouse nutrients.
I had a lot of broccoli to deal with so I opted for 3 different preparations which would please my finicky crowd.
Broccoli Soup: I sautéed 2 cups of onions in some olive oil, salted with a few pinches of sea salt and added in 2 TBSP of garlic once they were nice and brown. Caramelizing the onions developed more flavor which I needed since I was making this soup with straight water (no stock). Into that mixture went 4 cups of broccoli florets which I allowed to brown slightly too. And then I covered the sautéed mix with water and simmered it for 20 minutes with 2 bay leaves and a little black pepper thrown in for good measure. The final step was puréeing the whole mix (minus the bay leaves) in my blender. Delicious, healthy and wonderful served warm on a chilly winter day.
Broccoli Purée: I brought a pot of water to the boil and added in enough salt to make it taste like the ocean. This is important as helps to ‘pop’ the broccoli’s color while flavoring it. Instead of turning an unappetizing grey-green color, the broccoli stays bright. I tossed about 4 cups of florets into this boiling water and cooked them for about 5 minutes. The final step was to place them into my food processor and drizzle in about 2 TBSP of olive oil as it spun them into a smooth, velvety purée. If you want deeper flavor you can use butter but my version had a healthier spin on it and could be fed to the vegans in my life. Delicious, bright green and easy to reheat in the microwave. Whenever I make this it disappears with lightening speed.
Roasted Broccoli: Once again I brought a pot of water to the boil and added in enough salt to make it taste like the ocean. I then “blanched” about another 4 cups of florets (I chose the largest ones for this recipe) for about 3 minutes and drained them thoroughly. Once they were well dried off I tossed them in some olive oil and lay them out on sheet pans and roasted them in a 425F oven for about 20 minutes, turning them once. It is important to dry the broccoli enough so that the olive oil will coat each piece well, and to give each floret some elbow room. If you overcrowd your pan and they are touching, they will steam instead of browning, which gives them a deep, caramelized flavor. My 6-year old nephew calls this “overcooked broccoli” as he proceeds to down about a cup of it in a single seating. He’s not alone. People I know who profess to ‘hate’ broccoli (such strong words!) have devoured copious quantities of this preparation in front of my delighted eyes.
Now, 2 days later, there is nothing broccoli-like left in my fridge. I have several well-fed people to thank for this, people who are lobbying for me to make another trip to Costco for a large bag of potential yumminess. I may not go today, but one thing is certain: I will definitely oblige.