Why is broccoli such a hated vegetable by American children? Is it because broccoli is the mainstream easy veggie that's served most often, and kids don't tend to be huge vegetable fans in general? Or is it because most broccoli is served in a falling-apart, overcooked pile? I never hid my broccoli in my napkin growing up (call me an early adapter to the vegetable way of living) but I do know kids who did...
Actually, I adore broccoli. The Man and I are designing a vegetable garden right now, and broccoli is a must for me. Roasted in the oven, and cooked on the grill are two of my favorite ways to eat the stuff. But I can be suckered in by the classic steam as well, as long as it has a good dressing. That's the trick.
For a while my mother ate what seemed like 3 heads of broccoli steamed until beyond mushy, doused with olive oil and smashed up with flaky sea salt, practically every day. The one exception to the overcooked pile, I suppose. It's delicious, but a bit weird, and seems like one of those things that you should eat on your own time, while in your underwear in front of the TV. It's like Carrie Bradshaw's secret single behavior of standing at the kitchen counter eating stacks of saltine crackers with grape jelly while reading Vogue magazine... Not something you'd put on your blog, for instance.
So I'm not writing a recipe for smashed broccoli with olive oil and sea salt (though you really should try it), but I am sharing a version of steamed broccoli that's slightly more formal. Put on your pants and get off the couch for this one.
BROCCOLI WITH LEMON CAPER SAUCE
- 2 medium heads broccoli
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 3 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- a handful of fresh basil leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and capers. Let the garlic cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to show a hint of color. Take the pan off the heat and set aside. (The garlic will continue to cook in the hot oil even though the pan is off the heat, so you don't want to overdo it initially on the burner.)
Meanwhile, place a couple inches of water in a pot with a steamer basket, and bring to a simmer. Cut the broccoli into florets and place in the steamer basket. Cover, and steam for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green and can be pierced with a fork.
Transfer the broccoli to a serving bowl, and pour the garlic mixture over the broccoli. Roll up some basil leaves, and slice them thinly. Add the basil, lemon juice and grind some sea salt and black pepper on top to finish.