Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crispy Roasted Broccoli

I get really, really excited about simple side dishes. The kind of thing where the ingredient list is so short you can keep it in your head, the finished dish appears to be the simplest offering in history, yet the flavor and the texture combine in a sort of complex purity that mean leftovers would be a sacrilege.

Leftovers, of course, being the holy grail of mothers of young children, one of whom is being home schooled and likes for his mother to sit and read to him for lo, the many hours of the day.

Leftovers also being a sort of scourge to the work-at-home mother of young children who achieves a kind of zen-like calm during the brief, but oddly fulfilling, time spent fine-tuning flavors and tweaking textures in the kitchen at that beautiful midpoint in the day when the learning hours are past and a dark winter evening in a warm house stretches ahead.

Either way, or (sigh) both ways in this case, we never have leftovers when I make this lovely, crazy-easy, highly addictive roasted broccoli recipe. Last time, as a matter of fact, I doubled the recipe, sure that I would finally push the limits of our broccoli consumption, but still I caught The Carnivore pilfering the last few, by then slightly limp and completely cold, pieces out of the pan while I cleaned up the dishes after dinner.

We've fairly gone bonkers for this recipe, if I'm completely honest about it. I clipped it from an issue of Bon Appetit a while back, suspicious of it's simplicity, yet intrigued by the word 'addictive' in the headnote, and further captivated by the placement of the recipe in the magazine. I have long been a sucker for food columns in which readers request favorite restaurant recipes, and this was one of those. We have rarely been steered wrong by these sorts of recipes, and some of our longest-running family menu ideas have come from the same. And in this case, I mean really, if it is a simple broccoli side dish that has someone writing to a national magazine for help obtaining the recipe, well, I would be a little foolish to just turn the page and go on with my life, yes?

I had never roasted broccoli before encountering this recipe, instead generally steaming it and tossing it with a little butter and Parmesan, but our little family had recently fallen hard for a few roasted cauliflower dishes and were thusly prepped for the possibility of love in this instance as well. Of course, I have also turned my nose up at countless roasted winter veggie combinations that resulted in soggy textures and muddled flavors, so I came into this armed with prejudice and a grain of salt.

One just never knows. (Which is why I hope to someday learn to stop attempting new recipes when company is coming over for dinner. It would be nice to not have to stifle my horror the next time a cake refuses to be turned out of it's pan, or a candy seizes up, or a bread fails to rise).

This would have been a fine night for a dinner party though, as I'm sure you can imagine by the careless way I keep throwing around declarations of love and undying devotion.

The broccoli stems become tender as they roast, but just tender enough, if you know what I mean. Not soft. Not mushy. But the real beauty is at the edges of the florets, which crisp up as they begin to brown, lending every bite an irresistible crispy texture. The red pepper flakes are an added stroke of genius and are crucial to the recipe. Don't be afraid of their heat. The broccoli florets won't be overly spicy, and the finished dish would be one-dimensional in flavor without the oomph brought by the seasoning.

This is one of those dishes that goes with practically everything, is so easy to prepare that timing is never an issue, and, honest to everything, hand on a Bible, cannot be screwed up. In the countless times I have served this broccoli, I have made nearly every little mistake possible: I've pulled it out of the oven a minute or two too early, left it in a little too long, scrimped on the garlic and the red pepper flakes, and later overdosed on the same, but each and every time, we've loved and adored it.

And fought over the last few pieces. Of course.


ROASTED BROCCOLI WITH GARLIC & RED PEPPER (serves 2 to 4 as a side dish, from Black Bottle Seattle, and printed in Bon Appetit)
  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh broccoli crowns, cut into florets (to a kind of largish bite-size)
  • 3 1/2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss broccoli with 3 Tbs olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. Roast for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.
  3. In the meantime, stir together the remaining 1/2 Tbs olive oil, garlic and red pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Remove broccoli from the oven, and drizzle the garlic mixture over the broccoli, tossing to coat. Return to oven and roast for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until broccoli is beginning to brown and has crisped up on the edges of the florets.
  5. Season to taste with additional salt & pepper.


Jess said...

I just made this to go with lunch.
Um, yeah.

I may have to grow broccoli just to maybe have enough for this recipe to satisfy ONE of us.

Excellent! Thanks for posting it.

Becky said...

Quicker than my quick recipe and tastier too!

Caleb said...

I found your food blog going through a few links. Glad I ran into it. Didn’t know that the food blog/recipe community was so big online. I love your posts!

I was wondering if you would like to exchange links. I’ll drop yours on my site and you drop mine on yours. Email at ramendays@yahoo.com or stop by my site and drop a comment. Let me know if you would like to do a link exchange.


Stephani said...

What is the pasta in the picture? It looks yummy too!

Sarah Beam said...

That pasta recipe is a variation on The Joy of Cooking's Baked Macaroni & Cheese (a family favorite around here). I have the recipe posted at http://postmodernfeeding.blogspot.com/2008/08/becoming-little-more-paranoid.html

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Richard Bronosky said...

This broccoli is AMAZING! I was craving kale chips but my local grocer has not had any in weeks. I set out on the internet specifically to see if I could get a good crunch out of broccoli, and this recipe delivered.

I have been on the slow-carb diet (4HB) for only a short time now and I find that the thing I miss most about carbohydrates is the crunchy texture that so many forms of carbs can have. I really think that this will be paramount to my success. Thank you for posting this.

Sarah Beam said...

Hi Richard,

I am so glad you liked this recipe. It is one of our favorites, and I try to make it at least a few times a month during the winter months.

Crunch is good.


Richard Bronosky said...

Oops, I did crunchy didn't I? I meant to say crispy. Just before I posted that comment, I had this conversation with my wife where I clarified the difference between crispy and crunchy. She said that you can get crunch out of a lot of foods like baby carrots and bell peppers. However, that is a very different experience than the crispiness of potato/corn chips, fried breaded food, or cereal.