There are some ingredients that get people salivating with a mere mention, like bacon or chocolate. Then there are others that make chefs and culinary academy students prove why diners should sit up and take notice. Broccoli may not inspire instant excitement, but this vegetable is featured in many delicious recipes. Try making a few, and you will soon find there are plenty of ways to bring out great taste and texture in those little trees.
1. Simmer a cheesy soup
Broccoli and cheese soup is a classic comfort food, perfect for chilly nights. Serious Eats provided a recipe that keeps the distinctive flavor of the vegetables front and center. Start by removing the florets from stems and cutting the florets into small pieces.
“Broccoli and cheese soup is a classic comfort food.”
Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven, and then cook the florets at a high heat for about two minutes, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove the florets and reduce heat to medium before adding the stems to the oven with butter, onion and carrots. Cook for five minutes before throwing in garlic to cook for another 30 seconds.
Pour in chicken stock and milk, stirring in peeled slices of potato, and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour. Toss grated American and cheddar cheese with mustard powder and gradually add to the soup while combining with an immersion blender. Finish off the soup by adding the florets back in with a few drops of hot sauce and salt and pepper.
2. Create an exceptional side
Bon Appetit suggested pairing charred, roasted broccoli with peanuts for a surprising and delicious side dish. Trim and peel the broccoli stems before diagonally slicing them. Place the stems on a baking sheet, tossing with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast the stems in an oven set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, watching for them to brown. Then, coat with vinegar. While the stems roast, cook the florets in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat after about five minutes, adding peanuts and sugar. When the nuts turn golden brown, stir in nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Combine the stems and florets with scallions, sea salt and additional yeast to serve.
3. Top your pasta
Broccoli makes a fantastic complement to a variety of pasta dishes. As The Kitchn pointed out, it can even be made into a tasty sauce, ideal for serving with rotini. First, steam the broccoli florets and season them with salt and pepper.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until they grow soft, and then mix in the broccoli. When the onion becomes translucent, add parsley and then lemon juice. Simmer for two minutes before moving to a blender. Add feta cheese and water and puree until the mixture turns smooth.
4. Add a bacon vinaigrette
A foolproof way to make any vegetable more interesting is to add bacon. That’s what the New York Times suggested doing with a broccoli salad. Separate the stems and florets, peeling the stems, and cut into small pieces.
Blanch the broccoli in salty, boiling water for 30 seconds before moving to a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking. Drain the broccoli and set it aside while toasting pecans in a skillet. Remove the pecans and cook bacon in olive oil over medium heat.
When the bacon becomes crispy, lower the heat and use a whisk to mix in Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. Add the pecans back in with green onion and black pepper. Combine the broccoli with seedless grapes and top with the vinaigrette. For a finishing touch, sprinkle white cheddar on top.
With thoughtful preparation, you can turn broccoli into exciting side dish or entree. Any student earning a culinary arts certificate online should explore the possibilities of this versatile veggie.