I spent this past weekend in class. Continuing education is a great thing, and I really enjoyed this particular course — outstanding instructors, terrific classmates, new information — but the days were long and I didn't get much done at home. I was up at 4:30 a.m. Saturday to take my boyfriend (a relatively new development) to the airport; then it was a race home to shower, a trek to the neighbor's to drop off my dog for special keeping while I was away all day, and a mad dash for coffee, arriving at class at 7:30 a.m. Sunday was much of the same, minus the airport drive and extra-early arrival time.
Which is a very long-winded way to say that a) I didn't make it to the farmers' market this weekend and b) I didn't spend much time in the kitchen. I did, however, make one of my favorite go-to vegetable dishes after a long day in class, something so simple it doesn't require much of a recipe: roasted broccoli.
Please, stay with me.
Broccoli isn't exciting or sexy, but roasting it transforms this cruciferous veg into something far different from the limp, insipid specimen most of us grew up with. There's no need to joyously shove it down raw in an effort to eat more healthily, or to drown boiled broccoli in melted cheese (though I don't know how that ever became popular). Roasting broccoli caramelizes its sugars, intensifying the flavor and making it just a tad sweet. The edges get brown and crisp, red pepper flakes add a touch of heat — it's nothing like steam-table broccoli served in the school cafeteria.
This is a great side dish, though I've been known to eat it solo when I'm tired and not terribly hungry. Like I did yesterday.
Note: Be sure to put a metal baking sheet into the oven while it's preheating. Scattering the broccoli onto a sizzling hot baking sheet will help give the final product that caramelized crunch you're going for.
1 large head of broccoli
hot red pepper flakes
Place a baking sheet into the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the broccoli florets away from the stalk and place in a large bowl. Trim the tough outer layer from the stalk with a sharp knife and discard; cut the remaining stem into thin rounds and add to the bowl. Add a large pinch of kosher salt, a smaller pinch of hot red pepper flakes, and a few tablespoons of olive oil — just enough to coat the vegetables. Toss.
Scatter the broccoli onto the preheated baking sheet and roast until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.