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Sunday, September 21, 2008

roasted broccoli with garlic

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A few weeks ago, my friend Arthur called. He’s my farmers’ market manager, and we work together on all kinds of projects. My main responsibility, though, is to write email newsletters to remind people to come to the market, and to help them cook their fresh produce by sending them recipes tailored to the week’s harvest. I’ve also written a farmers’ market cookbook, featuring all those great vegetables. The goal is to get people to eat their vegetables without sounding like a nagging mother.

Arthur loves my food, but only recently has he started cooking regularly for his family—and I’m thrilled that he’s using recipes out of my cookbook! Even so, I’m unprepared for his phone call. He’s just made my garlic-roasted broccoli, Arthur tells me, and they love it! He continues,“This recipe has changed the way I think about vegetables! I love our broccoli!  It’s SO GOOD!” I reply, pretending to be annoyed: “Arthur, I’ve been telling you that for three years.” I’m grinning from ear to ear, so happy he’s excited. Then he tells me how Wade, his six-year-old vegetable-phobic son, reacted.

The piping-hot pans of crispy broccoli come out of the oven, redolent with garlic. Arthur and Michelle are snacking away, eating the broccoli right off the tray, and Wade appears. Wade, while not a connoisseur of vegetables, does like money, and Arthur makes him a deal. “OK, Wade. I’ll give you a dollar if you eat just one piece of this broccoli. But… if you eat ANOTHER piece of broccoli, you have to give me the dollar back.” Wade thinks this through, then agrees. He takes his dollar and his floret, and slowly nibbles the dreaded vegetable. Completely poker-faced, he sits quietly for a couple of minutes, then finally slouches up to Arthur. He doesn’t say a word, but tilts his head to the side, looks sideways up at his dad, and returns the dollar to Arthur. Those trays of broccoli never make it to the dinner table.

Give this recipe a try! If you haven’t roasted broccoli yet, this will definitely change your attitude about broccoli, and it may just change your life.

roasted broccoli with garlic

This is a really easy recipe, but it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s yummier than French fries! The broccoli makes such a nice side dish, a great snack, a fantastic pizza topping… that is, if you can resist eating the whole batch straight off the baking sheet. I’ve been known to roast six baking sheets of broccoli in an evening, eat it for dinner one day, lunch the next, and then make pizza with it the following day.

I find that it’s easy to eat lots of vegetables and resist snacking on unhealthy food as long as I have plenty of ready-to-eat vegetable dishes like this hanging around in the refrigerator.

2 pounds broccoli
4 (or more) cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. If the skins are tough, peel the broccoli stalks, starting from the bottom, using a paring knife—the thick skin will peel away from the stalk. Then slice the stalks into coins less than ¼” thick. Keep them separate from the florets. Cut the florets into bite-sized pieces.
3. Coat 1 or 2 large baking sheets with non-stick spray or oil. (This makes clean-up a lot easier.)
4. Toss the broccoli stalks with half the oil, garlic and salt in a bowl until evenly coated with oil. Spread the broccoli stalks out into a single layer. Roast until the stalks are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
5. Toss the broccoli florets with the remaining oil, garlic and salt, and roast them like the broccoli stalks until tender and beginning to brown. That will take less time—more like 12-15 minutes. Eat and enjoy!


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