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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

broccoli with golden raisins


air-fresh Alaskan broccoli

We’ve had broccoli on the brain these days, at the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market. You just can’t beat Alaska-grown for sweet and tender broccoli! And there’s so much of it! To try and create a bigger market for that proverbial powerhouse of nutrition, I started promoting it in earnest! 

First I loaded a bunch of new broccoli recipes and photos on our website. Then Dan helped me make a YouTube video about processing broccoli for the winter. And just a couple of weeks ago, we had a special event at the farmers’ market where you could clip a coupon for three heads of FREE broccoli. Meanwhile, I’ve been promoting the broccoli mania in my weekly South Anchorage Farmers’ Market email newsletter.

But my newsletter doesn’t just go to folks here in Anchorage. I have plenty of subscribers all around Alaska, including my friend Roselynn, in Fairbanks. Recently, she emailed to tell me that she’s coming to town for a work trip, and she can spend the night with us! Now, many of my friends from Fairbanks head straight for Nordstrom when they come to the big city. But not Roselynn! She’s caught the broccoli bug, and she wants to head straight to the Wednesday Farmers’ Market to fill her bags with big heads of bargain broccoli to freeze for the winter!

She’s bringing her biggest suitcase, and we’ll see how much broccoli we can stuff into her Samsonite for the trip back to Fairbanks!

broccoli with golden raisins

I love this broccoli recipe—it’s great hot on toast, or warm or at room temperature as a salad, or as a side dish to almost anything! I love it as a snack. It’s loosely based on a recipe in Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, one of my favorite cookbooks for vegetables. For a fun and colorful meal, serve this on toast with a pile of raw red pepper spears and a dish of hummus on the side.

1 ½ pounds broccoli, tops cut into bite-sized florets, and stems sliced into ¼” slices (peel the stems first if the skin is tough)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ cup golden raisins
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt or kosher salt
optional toast:
4 slices thick whole-wheat bread
extra olive oil for the toast

1. Put about an inch of water in the bottom of a pot that you can put a steamer basket in. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils, put the golden raisins in the steamer basket and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the raisins, but keep the water in the steamer.
2. Put the broccoli stems into the steamer basket, and steam for 4-6 minutes until barely tender. Check them every minute after 4 minutes, poking with a sharp paring knife. Remove the stems, drain them, and immediately spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet spread with a dishtowel. (This cools the broccoli quickly and allows it to dry out.)
3. Put the florets in the steamer, and steam for 3-5 minutes until barely tender, keeping a close eye on them. Remove the florets and spread them out on a dishtowel as with the stems. When they are cool enough to handle, chop the florets and stems a bit finer with a large chef’s knife.
4. In a large skillet over high heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, stems, raisins, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the broccoli is quite tender, and the flavors are nicely combined—about 5 minutes. Season with plenty of salt—it will need quite a bit.
5. If you want to serve the broccoli on toast, toast the slices of bread until golden, and drizzle with olive oil. Pile the broccoli on top.

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