Posts Tagged ‘broccoli’

Beautiful Broccoli


Any honest gardener will admit to a lot of disappointments, small disasters, and unfulfilled ambitions. Heat waves sizzle delicate plants to a crisp. Hail happens. Or, maddeningly, a particular plant that’s supposed to be easy sizes you up and drops dead rather than be bothered with you.
You get hooked, though, because something always does so well that you can hardly believe it. This year, supposedly heat-loving exotics like winged beans and chayote refused to grow, but broccoli, which likes cool weather, is producing better than ever before. I’ve gotten heads almost a foot across and side shoots as big as my fist or bigger. When picked twenty minutes before dinner, broccoli has a delicate flavor and none of the funk that can develop when it sits around. There are hundreds of good ways to cook it, but one of my favorites for a fast healthy meal is a pasta with broccoli cooked in the pasta pot.

For two large servings and good leftovers, you need:
1 large head of broccoli or two smaller ones
8 oz of dry pasta (whole wheat pasta tastes pretty good in this dish)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large or 5 medium cloves garlic, sliced thinly.
one anchovy fillet, mashed (optional but gives depth)
half a teaspoon (or more) hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine
half a lemon
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
a scant cup of best Parmesan cheese, grated

Start a pot of salted water boiling. Cut the broccoli into slender “branches” by splitting the stems. Slice the garlic cloves. When the water comes to a boil, put in the pasta. Heat half the olive oil in a small skillet and saute’ the garlic cloves until cooked through over medium heat. Add the anchovy and red pepper, saute’ another minute, then add the red wine and boil until it’s reduced to half. Add salt to taste. Keep checking the pasta, and about 3 minutes before it’s done, put the broccoli in the pot. Make sure it’s submerged and the water returns to a boil, then check the pasta in 2-3 minutes, and as soon as it’s perfectly done, drain the pot and return the drained noodles and broc to the pot. Toss in the remaining olive oil, then the skillet contents, then toss in all but a little of the cheese and promptly plate the pasta, remembering to leave enough in the pot for lunch the next day. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over each serving. Toss the pine nuts over the top along with the remaining cheese, and eat while hot. Elapsed time: about 15 minutes from the time the water comes to a boil to the table, if you’re reasonably quick and deft about splitting up the broccoli.

Don’t forget to scatter your vegetable garden with some flowers. It benefits the bees and it benefits your spirits.

The Joys of Summer: dinner on the grill

june 2009 033

When it’s too damn hot to heat up the kitchen, the pleasures of summer dinners are just getting started. My garden is producing huge beautiful heads of broccoli right now, and the blossoms have died off the potatoes, indicating that I can start digging new potatoes. You can go to the Los Ranchos or Corrales farmers markets and find the Fishhuggers, Kenny and Brenna, who will sell you a splendid King Salmon “breakfast” steak from a fish personally caught by Kenny. They do beautifully on the grill. Add one large sweet potato and you’re all set. The small amount of prep work can be done in the morning, before the heat starts, and then the entire meal is finished on the grill.  If you read my earlier post (“The First Garlic,” three posts ago)and made garlic confit, you have a head start on the prep work. 

King salmon is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, and personally I would rather eat delicious food than take pills, so for me the choice to eat Kenny’s wild-caught sustainable Alaskan fish whenever I can afford it is an easy one.

This meal is especially nice if you need to feed vegans and vegetarians as well as fish-eaters, because the vegetables are so satisfying by themselves.

Clich here for the recipe! Continue reading