Thursday, July 15, 2010

broccoli strascinati

roman style broccoli

Remember when I talked about making pork chops agrodolce and peperonata from Saveur's Roman Food issue? Well, another dish in the magazine that caught my eye was broccoli strascinati. The concept is simple: broccoli cooked in a frying pan at medium high heat with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. I really like broccoli, and I think it's especially good when the edges start to brown even as the rest of the floret stays bright green, so I was excited to try cooking it this way.

Nathan, however, hates broccoli, which means that in the two years we've been dating, I've cooked it only a handful of times. This is sad. Growing up, broccoli had a prime spot in our veggie rotation, usually steamed and sprinkled with lemon juice and grated cheese. If it wasn't for Nathan, I know it would remain among my go-to vegetables. As it is, I miss broccoli, so when Boyfriend went off to Italy without me, what else could I do but cook a Roman broccoli dish?

When I made dinner for Paul, I had just gotten three small heads of broccoli from the food co-op. When I started thinking about side dishes for chicken parmigiana, this recipe immediately popped into my head. I got hungry just thinking about it: crispy, crunchy, slightly charred broccoli with fragrant garlic and olive oil and a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes. I'm used to hearing from Nathan about how awful broccoli is, so I was worried that Paul and company wouldn't like it. Then I remembered that Paul's second favorite dish after chicken parm is chicken with broccoli, and that he has long dreamed of combining the two into one super dish. We were golden.

I cut the broccoli up into little florets. I also peeled the stem and chopped that up, so as to not waste anything, but I think I could have peeled a little more liberally, as I got some very chewy stringy stems at points. Then I smashed and sliced a few garlic cloves. From there, the recipe is sinfully simple.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the broccoli and let that start to brown, turning it periodically, for 6 to 8 minutes. Then you add just a little bit of water, the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes more, until the garlic starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper, and you've got an easy and super delicious vegetable side dish. It's so good I suspect even Nathan would like it.

As for Paul, this was probably the closest he's ever going to get to his hybrid chicken parm/chicken with broccoli dinner. While I'm happy to cater to a friend's personal tastes, I don't think I'm ever going to mess with parmigiana soy sauce fusion. Sorry Pablo.

Stay tuned for our dessert!

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