I have a bunch of recipes that I’ve been meaning to blog for a while, and this is one of the better ones. I can’t remember where I originally got this idea; I think it was from some blogger’s variation that was a few degrees removed from an Ina Garten concoction. I’ve been roasting cauliflower for years, and I grill a lot of vegetables, but I think the best way to cook broccoli (and keep the meal healthy) is under the broiler.
Here’s everything you need:
- 4 crowns of broccoli, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
This is a simple recipe. Start by preheating the oven to 425° (broil) and placing the rack in the second-highest position. Cut the florets into manageable-sized chunks. The broccoli caramelizes where it sticks to the roasting pan, so you want relatively small chunks that have a lot of surface area. I save the woodier parts of the stems for stock, but sometimes I slice the more tender parts near the top into thin rounds and roast them along with the florets.
Slice a few cloves of garlic. The thinner they are, the more likely they are to dry out and burn, so leave them a little thick. While you have the cutting board out, use a grater or a microprobe to zest half of a lemon.
Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the florets and season with salt and pepper. Maybe 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper? Next, place the sliced garlic on top of the florets.
Place the pan under the broiler for about 20-25 minutes until the stalks soften and the florets darken at the edge. Rotate the pan 180° halfway through the cooking process. When the broccoli is finished cooking, sprinkle the lemon zest over the broccoli and squeeze half of the juice from half of the lemon over everything. Does that make sense? You want 1/4 of the lemon’s juice in all. Finally, taste the broccoli. Feel free to season with more salt and pepper and add a little more olive oil if you think it needs it. Serve the broccoli with a little grated Parmesan cheese on top.
The wife loves this dish. It’s really more of a cooking method than a recipe, and I rarely make it the exact same way twice. You just need raw vegetables, oil, seasonings, and direct heat. Whenever we have a homemade vinaigrette languishing in the fridge, I’ll drizzle it over broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, etc and cook them this way. You can even cook whole carrots like this with a little butter, honey and lemon and it comes out great.
I should point out that this will not work with frozen, chopped vegetables. I don’t know how the science works, but once the vegetables have been frozen, they never roast or saute properly. They just seem to steam and wilt in their own water. I’m not knocking the convenience and nutritional value in the frozen stuff, I’m just pointing out that it doesn’t mesh well with this kind of preparation. Save that stuff for casseroles.
If you’re wondering what else is on the plate in the picture above, it’s one of my rosemary grilled pork chops.