Alice Waters to the rescue.
If broccoli has not always ranked in your top five list of favorite vegetables, it will now. This recipe is closely based on a recipe by Alice Waters for long-cooked broccoli, a garlic-forward sleeper hit tucked into the back third of The Art of Simple Food. (This Alice Waters cookbook ranks as one of my cookbook bibles; get it.)
Through the powers of time, steam, garlic, and a little salt and lemon juice, broccoli — which can taste and smell a little harsh — transforms into a silky, chunky, and flavorful mash without a trace of sulfur so common in cruciferous vegetables. Cooking the broccoli for a long time removes the sulfurous compounds. What remains is a delicious, chunky near-puree that tastes salty and satisfying, brightened with garlic and lemon.
Broccoli lasts a while in the fridge if you are spacing out your grocery shops. It also qualifies as a superfood. So, lots of bonus points. Oh — please do use the broccoli stems. Broccoli stems taste even better than the florets: tender and almost sweet when cooked.
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Alice Waters’s long-cooked broccoli with garlic can be eaten plain with a spoon (it is that good, promise), or piled high on thick, toasted bread that’s been drizzled with olive oil and eaten crostini style. Because of the smooth but substantial texture, it also makes an excellent sauce for pasta. Either way, top it with some aged parmesan shavings and maybe some extra red pepper flakes.
The color dulls a bit in the slow cooking process, as you can see from the photo below. If you want to brighten the final broccoli dish up a little, I suggest garnishing with some fresh chopped Italian parsley.
Did you make the recipe? Tell us about it in the comment section, below.
Long-Cooked Broccoli With Garlic
- 2 pounds fresh broccoli, cut into florets (don't forget to peel and include the stems, chopped; they are delicious)
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 whole lemon, juiced
- large pinch dried red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- freshly-shaved parmesan cheese, to garnish
- Prepare the broccoli by cutting off the bottom stump and peeling the stems. Cut the stems and "trees" into chunky florets and pieces, and place them in a medium-sized pot.
- Add the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and water.
- Bring the pot to a boil and stir. Lower heat to a bare simmer and cover the pot. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is very soft and fall-apart tender, about one hour. There should be enough water in there for the full cooking period, but if it starts to look dry, add a small amount more.
- Add the lemon juice. Stir, and taste for seasoning. Stir vigorously until the broccoli becomes a loose, chunky mash.
- Serve as a side dish, or as a pasta sauce or crostini topping. Garnish with shavings of aged parmesan and more red pepper flakes.