Broccoli is another one of those hearty green vegetables that proliferate during the cold months.
But what do you do with a stalk of broccoli, Fellow FoodBeest? Steam it? Butter it? Maybe a little lemon juice and/or salt? Am I the only one who thinks that’s really boring?
I keep looking for new ways to use broccoli. Here are some neat twists you might really like.
What makes this broccoli crunchy is a well-seasoned breadcrumb topping that is given life with garlic, lemon, and Aleppo peppers. Aleppo peppers are fruity, mildly spicy peppers that are indigenous to the Middle East. They’re not typically in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. I get them dried from the Spice House here in Chicago, but they are also available online and probably in certain gourmet food stores. A good substitute is 4 parts of sweet paprika to one part of cayenne.
This one was Mr. FB’s favorite.
What Need to Make Crunchy Broccoli
One head (stalk) of broccoli, washed, with the stem-ends cut off.
2 t butter
1 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T Panko bread crumbs
1 t grated lemon rind
½ t Aleppo peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
How to Make Crunchy Broccoli
You probably already know how to steam the broccoli, but here goes:
Peel the outer skin off the stem so that the stem and flowers cook at the same pace. Cut the broccoli stalk the long way until you have little broccoli trees that will cook faster and fit better in the pot than one big tree.
Place the cut pieces of the broccoli (the trees) on a little aluminum steamer device in a pot over an inch or so of water. Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until you can easily pierce the broccoli with a fork, but it is still a vibrant green. Once it goes grey on you, you’ve lost the war.
While the broccoli is steaming (or you may want to have this prepared first), melt the butter in a small sauté pan. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Now add the breadcrumbs, Aleppo peppers and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, just until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Set aside.
When the broccoli is cooked, put it on a serving plate, top with the breadcrumb mixture. You’ll be surprised at how good it is and how much you want to eat. We were.
Scorched broccoli is really a technique for lightly caramelizing the broccoli. Carmelizing brings out the sweetness of a food. This recipe has good ancestry. It was adapted from one by Chef Heston Marc Blumenthal, an English chef and owner of The Fat Duck, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Bray, Berkshire. It’s been voted Best Restaurant in the UK.
What You Need to Make Scorched Broccoli
One head (stalk) of broccoli, washed, with the stem ends cut off.
1 T olive oil
½ T butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice
Cut the flowers off the head of broccoli, than cut the flowers so they are about same size. Peel the stalk of broccoli and slice it into slices about ¼ – ½-inch thick.
Heat up the olive oil in a cast iron frying pan over high heat. You want the oil to get very hot, nearly smoking.
Pop the broccoli into the pan with the hot oil all at once and cover it with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes, without lifting the lid. Take the lid off, season the broccoli with salt and pepper, shake the pan to move the broccoli around, add the butter, re-cover and cook for 2 more minutes on high. Check the broccoli to see if it’s done (it should be cooked – partially scorched, partially green).
If it isn’t ready, cover the pan and cook for about 2 more minutes. Then squeeze just a little lemon juice on top.