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 an Alice Waters recipe for long-cooked broccoli mash, a garlicky sleeper hit tucked into The Art of Simple Food. (This cookbook ranks as an all-time essential cookbook; get it.) Perfect for pasta, thick-cut toast, or right off a spoon.
Why Alice Water’s Long-Cooked Broccoli Mash Is So Good
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 broccoli 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.
How to Serve Alice Water’s Long-Cooked Broccoli
Alice Waters’s long-cooked broccoli with garlic can be eaten multiple ways, thanks to its versatility and texture. My favorites:
- Plain with a spoon (it is that good, promise)
- 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
No matter how you serve this, top this broccoli dish with some aged parmesan shavings and maybe some extra red pepper flakes.
How to Brighten the Broccoli’s Color
The broccoli’s color dulls a fair amount in the slow, lengthy 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.
If you like this broccoli mash, you’ll also love:
- Spring Vegetable Farrotto
- Burrata With Roasted Vine Tomatoes
- Easy Summer Squash Parmigiana
- Spicy Broccoli Sesame Noodles
Alice Water's 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 ½ 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.
The broccoli mash was delicious! So glad I tried it and was very happy to have leftovers
Thank you! Isn’t it so good??
Jackie F. says
I have made this recipe for years from the Art of Simple Food cookbook and it is nice to see that you like it too. It is so good because I didn’t know broccoli could taste that soft and delicious. I never thought to toss it with pasta but am going to do this right away! Great idea! Love the blog.
Mary T. says
It may not be beautiful but it tastes delicious and silky. 100% great 🙂
I’m from an Italian background and grew up eating broccoli this way.. I always loved it but with all the new “modern cuisine”of barely cooked veggies,I thought that the old way was replaced . In fact, when I cook I keep it bright green or roast it. Now I feel like I have permission to cook it to death. So thanks.
Also I just ordered this cookbook. And thanks for recommending Jubilee— I’m cooking my way through that and haven’t hit anything that we don’t all love. It also has great history.
Hi, Julie! I love that description of “cooking it to death.” haha! I wish I had written that in the directions. Yeah, you definitely sacrifice color, but it just tastes so darn good. However, I have seen a version of this with spinach that makes it a brighter green overall. Haven’t tried it, though.
And so glad about the cookbooks! Two of my favorites 🙂 Thanks so much for writing!
I honestly never knew broccoli could taste this good. The color’s a bit blah, but wow — the flavor. I bought the Alice Waters cookbook and have enjoyed looking through it.
This has been a go-to recipe in my house for years. It does not disappoint.