Monday, March 21, 2011

Decadently Simple Roasted Broccoli

Broccoli is much loved by my family. We eat it steamed, roasted, hot, room temperature or chilled. Generally all we require is salt, olive oil and pepper, and deliciousness ensues. But once in a while, you need to dress it up, kind of like pulling those designer shoes out of the closet and showing them off. That is where this recipe comes in handy.

Roasted broccoli and garlic, tossed with lemon juice and zest, and dusted with parmesan cheese. Magic in your mouth! While this recipe is originally Ina Garten's (aka The Barefoot Contessa), I followed the paired down version that The Amateur Gourmet offered, who left out the toasted pine nuts and shredded fresh basil. No doubt the dish would not suffer from these additions but I can attest most fervently that it certainly shone despite their absence!

While I generally do not preach about ingredients, a word about good quality parmesan is warranted. Real parmesan - Parmigiano Reggiano - is the only cheese that is almost always in my refrigerator. And I buy it by the block, and yes it is expensive (usually $15 plus a pound). But it is so much better tasting and melting than the pre-grated stuff you can buy, which quite often contains additives to keep it from sticking together. Spurge and make it a part of your pantry.

A tip on keeping good parmesan fresh and not dried out (which it can be when not cut off the wheel in front of you,) is to wrap it in dampened cheese cloth and then wrap in foil for 24 hours. The cheese will reabsorb some moisture to such an extent that it will almost be as soft as super-aged cheddar. It melts and grates so much better in this state, and you will use less of it for the same amount of taste. This tip I learned from Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook, which I trust implicitly when it comes to traditional Italian ways.

Decadently Simple Roasted Broccoli from The Amateur Gourmet
serves 2

1 bunch (1 lb) broccoli, cut into 1 inch pieces (cut stems in half if overly large)
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, cut in half
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss broccoli with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on foil lined baking sheet, spreading broccoli out evenly so it isn't bunched together. Bake for 20 minutes until some edges of florets are browning. Remove from oven and toss with zest from both lemon halves juice from one lemon half, and grate parmesan over all (about 1/4 cup total) and serve.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Stuffed Focaccia with Sausage and Onions at The Italian Dish
Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Cheese at Eats Well With Others
Cardoon and Potato Gratin at Israeli Kitchen

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