I love broccoli.
I know you do, too. You are like me. You love kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, BROCCOLINI.
Yes, broccolini. The ridiculously svelte and pretentious version of broccoli. You even love that.
In which case, you feel the same way I do: while there are a million and one ways to deliciously cook said broccoli, a new way makes you just about as happy as does the discovery of a new star.
So it was with me, one issue of FOOD AND WINE. Yes, FOOD AND WINE, that magazine that is practically the broccolini of the food magazine world. The magazine that so frequently annoys me by its aspirant pretensions (does anyone in the world actually need a $500 wine cooler? does anyone in the world actually decorate their platters with authentic arctic moss? does anyone in the world…but you get the idea). Every so often I think with a sigh that I will finally give up my subscription, and stop feeling the need to a.) throw the magazine across the room, while shouting, ‘that is the stupidest thing I ever heard of’ and/or b.) call a chef friend and read, in a voice filled with disbelief, ‘this latest idiocy they’ve got trending out there’.
But then…it happens. The way it happens sometimes that the woman you swore you would never lunch with again, after she spent the whole time picking at her designer salad while telling you about her Moroccan vacation, suddenly reveals herself to be a good friend. Yes. The way sometimes after scorning broccolini as a passing fad, it gets marked down in the supermarket, and you grudgingly buy it, only to find it’s perfectly delightful steamed and covered with lemon butter.
So it was with the last issue of FOOD AND WINE. Because, bless its heart, there it was. A new way of cooking broccoli. More importantly, a new, easier, mega delicious way to cook broccoli. And broccolini, too, as I discovered on further experimentation.
Now as you know, there are many ways to cook broccoli: Steamed and served with a squeeze of lemon. Stir-fried with crushed garlic cloves and red pepper pods. Boiled till crisp and bright green, drained, and served with hollandaise. Chilled, diced, tossed with vinaigrette, and topped with chopped hard-boiled egg. Cooked in the oven for about an hour with chopped bacon and sliced onion (khaki colored, yes, I know, but oh, how yum).
I could go on.
So I thought I knew every way to cook broccoli. But this was pretentious of moi. Because this is probably my new favorite way: you heat the oven to 500 degrees, spread the broccoli on a cookie sheet, mix it with cut up red onion wedges and some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast till done, then drizzle on browned butter mixed with capers and a bit of fish sauce. Divine.
The recipe called for broccoli crowns alone, but I always peel my broccoli stalks, cut them into little wedges, and cook with the tops. I love those stalks the best, actually. And those red onions: it would be great with them, but I usually have yellow ones in the house. The rest of it, though, was super. Super easy, super delicious.
Heat oven to 500 degrees.
On a cookie sheet, take a whole head of broccoli, flowerets separated and stalk peeled, cut lengthwise and across to small lengths, and spread out, tossing with an onion cut into wedges, two tablespoons of olive oil (mild is best here, you can use any mild oil, come to think of it), and kosher salt and pepper (any salt is good, but F&W recommends kosher, and I agreed with them that’s best). Bake without tossing or fussing with it at all until it’s browned and tender, which takes about twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, melt a half stick of unsalted butter and cook, stirring once in awhile, over medium heat (watch it!) until it turns brown and, as they say, ‘smells nutty’. This takes about five minutes or so. When done, take it off the heat, and add (oh, joy!) a tablespoon of capers and a teaspoon of fish sauce. (Definitely take it off the heat before adding, or you’re going to have spatters of sauce all over your stove. Just sayin’.)
Pour over the broccoli and serve.
F&W recommends the broccoli be spread on a platter. But I just made some brown rice, put it into bowls, plopped the broccoli and onions on top, and poured the sauce over. We had this with cucumber salad (vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and a little sugar atop sliced cucumbers), and it was divine.
A few nights later, I tried it with broccolini. Another success, though I have to admit I should have peeled those skinny little stalks first.
All of this goes to show: you can’t judge a food magazine by its cover. Or anyone, really. You really can’t. You have to look at its true soul. Because true soul makes the best recipes, for broccoli and for friendship. That’s what I think, anyway.