Sunday, September 2, 2012

Broccoli Heaven

Thanks to Adam over at the Amateur Gourmet and to the Barefoot Contessa, my life is forever changed.  So are my girls' lives.   At least twice a week I meet Haki's enquiry, "What's for dinner?" with "Broccoli."  Then silence.  Haki is wise, because he laughs in response.  You see, this green vegetable is now the main event in my mind, and often all I have planned at the time of being asked.  My girls think broccoli is a treat.  "Broccoli Heaven" is my variation of this recipe.  Having made this a-plenty (and over a short space of time -- so past execution is fresh in my mind), I've made some tweaks to tailor the method and ingredients for optimum results, my palate, and my pocket.*

1 large head of broccoli, dry
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried garlic granules
1 teaspoon salt (I have sometimes used garlic salt in place of the salt and granules)
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Lemon zest

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
  2. Cover a cookie tray with aluminium foil.
  3. Chop broccoli into medium-sized florets (I halve pieces longways that have tops that would fill the circle made by my pointer and thumb-tips kissing).
  4. Mound chopped florets in the centre of prepared tray.  Drizzle over olive oil.  Toss.
  5. Sprinkle over dried basil, garlic granules, salt, and cracked pepper, tossing as you go.
  6. Spread the seasoned broccoli out evenly on the tray and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, flipping florets midway.
  7. Remove the tray from the oven and sprinkle sliced almonds onto tray.
  8. Return to the oven and roast for about 10 more minutes, stirring once halfway.  It is ready when the broccoli florets are getting patches of brown crunchy heaven, and appears by its colour to be al dente but tender.  The almonds will be brown on one or both sides.
  9. Plate broccoli.  Sprinkle over parmesan cheese and lemon zest.
  10. Salivate and serve.  Lament not having made a double batch.  Contemplate running out just to get more broccoli.

*Namely: I like my garlic taste to be consistent throughout, and crushed garlic creates patches of damp that counter the crunch -- garlic granules or the use of garlic salt counter this; I find the lemon zest is all that is needed for sourness, and the lemon juice is overkill -- again, dampening your hard work as well as detracting from its richness; and I have used sliced almonds in place of pine nuts and dried basil instead of fresh leaves -- in both cases I'd go for Adam and Contessa's ingredients, if I had that stuff).
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