Oven-Roasted broccoli

Roasted broccoli, y’all!

I have hitched my wagon to this roasted-vegetable train and am on board with most but broccoli just didn’t seem to work for me. It burned and yet did not soften.

Then into my life came wacky Tyler Kord — yes that’s a person’s name — the genius behind the No. 7 Sub shop on Broadway on the east side of Manhattan with the powerhouse deliciousness of the wacky broccoli sub. It has broccoli, lychee nuts and ricotta salata and is a powerhouse of flavor. Craving flavor- level. I still remember it though I have not been staying nearly across the street from the closet of a sub shop for several years. Turns out Kord has a cookbook. And in it he confesses to a wild mad love of broccoli. He has a technique for roasting broccoli, which actually works.

Take out a big stalk of broccoli. Cut off the lower end of the stem (my direction). Peel the stem with a vegetable peeler. Then, started at the bottom of the stem, slice stem into 1/4” slices, all the way up to the florets and into the florets. Cut any florets wider than 2” in half.

Toss broccoli with olive oil, S&P and roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring sometime in the interim. Pretty darn good! And look Ma! No butter!

Served with roasted (marinated) chicken thighs, and roasted garlic potatoes. A low stress, wait-for-you dinner.

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Make-ahead broccoli for dinner

I like broccoli cooked but not cooked-the-life-out-of it. That’s tricky when you’re steaming it. It gets cooked and then if you let it hang around while other dishes finish up, the broccoli can quickly zip past the cooked-properly to the overdone zone. And anyway, plain, overcooked broccoli is not a welcome sight on one’s dinner plate.

One solution is to blanch the broccoli, drain and let sit out, and later  re-warm in garlic-infused olive oil with hot pepper flakes and perhaps some shavings of parmesan.

Directions:

Parboil broccoli sections in salted water for about 4 minutes. Drain and set out on sheet pan to sit at room temp while you cook the rest of dinner.

Slice garlic and sauté gently over medium low heat in a good quantity of olive oil with salt until golden or just barely golden. Put all in a small bowl and set aside.

When ready for broccoli, heat the pan, add olive oil, hot pepper flakes, and turn broccoli in oil, adding garlic and garlic-infused oil, and salt.

Put into serving bowl and shave on some parmesan, which will melt from the hot broccoli.

Impromptu soba noodle salad

If you have some leftover flank steak or other yummy protein, try this for lunch:

Soba noodles (buckwheat/wheat), 1/2 package — 4+ oz.  Boil in salted water 6 mins. Then drain, run cold water over, put in bowl, and mix in < 1 T sesame oil

Mushrooms, sliced, about 5 mixture of shiitake and cremini, sautéed in grapeseed oil; add salt
Garlic cloves, 2 minced. Add to mushrooms at end
Red pepper flakes — mix into mushrooms while cooking
Ginger, optional

Prep cool ingredients:
beef, couple slices, cut up
carrot, 1 large grated, some diced
Red pepper, 1/2, small dice
Sesame seeds (optional)
Scallions (optional)

On cooled noodles, mix in some soy sauce and some Bo Ssam sauce or perhaps Chile garlic sauce for spice/vinegar. Mix in mushrooms.

Plate with:
Noodles mixture
Cut-up steak
Grated carrots
Diced peppers
Sesame seeds

On top: squeeze on lime

Beans and shrimp, North African flavors

Some days dinnertime rolls around and we’re not enthused about a big cooking endeavor but don’t want to fall back into the old familiar. Here’s a simple idea for when beans are around: beans with shrimp and North African spices. And on the table in about 20 mins or less. Would be a good time to cook up some flatbread to go with, along with minted yogurt perhaps.

For the saltiness and acid, olives and preserved lemon are preferred. But if they’re not on hand — remember, this is all about “easy” — improvise with capers and lemon juice.

For two people:

8-10 shrimp, shelled and de-veined
chickpeas, 1 c plus cooking liquid (or stock or water)

onion, 1/2, diced
Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
Hot smoked paprika, 1/4 to 1/2 t
(or use sweet smoked paprika and add red pepper flakes, 1/2 t)
Cumin, 1/2 t

If you have green olives — spiced or not — use 2 handfuls
Preserved lemon, 1, rinsed and sliced into thin strips

optional: mint leaves, torn or chopped, for garnish

Directions:

Heat sauté pan, and add 1 T olive oil and sauté onion for about 4-5 mins until soft, then add garlic and then spices. Then add beans and cooking water, and heat to hot and bubbling, adding black pepper. You want the spices to meld and some of the water to cook off.
Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, submerging in liquid and turning.

Serve in shallow bowls with mint on top.

Inspiration: Food 52

Pasta with roasted cauliflower

When there’s nothing in the house to cook but there is some cauliflower and perhaps njuda, you can make a quick and easy dinner. Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put up pot of water to boil pasta.
Roast cauliflower with olive oil, S&P 400 degrees about 20 mins.
Cook pasta: Interesting tubes are good. I used bronze-cut pipe rigate (from Aldi’s!).
Make a quick tomato-sauce with a smidgen of canned diced tomatoes (even better: fire-roasted) with 1 oz of njuda, broken up. Sauté in small saucepan for 10+ mins; adding some hot pepper flakes, oil, S&P. Optional: capers.
Chop up some fresh parsley

Remove cauliflower when cooked and set aside to cool a bit. Cut into bite-size pieces.
Cook pasta to al dente and drain, and put into large-ish bowl.
Mix in tomato sauce and stir with cauliflower. Sprinkle on parsley and serve. Yum!

Stir-fry with any vegetables

A surprisingly delicious simple stir-fry with rice.

When you’re going out to an evening meeting and want to eat something when you come home, do what I did and eat contentedly.
Before leaving, put up some brown rice in the rice cooker. I like medium grain. 2/3 dry with 2-1/2 x water and some salt is a good amount for two servings.

Ingredients:
Red onion, large dice, 1/2
Brussels sprouts, cut in half, rinsed and sliced
mushrooms, 4, cut into large slices and cut in half
Leftover chicken

Directions:
Sauté onion for 5 minutes in olive oil. Add in Brussels sprouts, and turn and cook a minute or so. Add good splash of water, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover and let steam and water escape. Add mushrooms, cook a couple minutes, then add chicken in pieces to warm through.

Very delicious served with fresh rice. A dabble of olive oil on top is nice. Or nutritional yeast if it’s around.

Coconut rice w/ marinated boneless chicken breasts

Craving something tangy and tantalizing, I started with putting up a pot of coconut rice in my rice cooker. Easy: 1 c brown jasmine rice, rinsed and salt added to pot. Pour 1 can of coconut milk into 2 c measuring cup, add water to bring to 2-1/4 c, and cook in the regular way.

I used the cream on top of the can, and next time I think it would be better to spoon that off and perhaps save for sautéing, rather than use for the rice.

Make a marinade for chicken breasts:

1 c coconut milk — heat to simmer in small pot. Add:

1 hot pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Ginger, grated, ~ 1 T or less (Will need same amount later for cooking chicken)
2/3 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
Star anise or smallish piece of cinnamon stick
Brown sugar, 1 T
1 T chili garlic sauce

Stir together, transfer to flat bottom bowl, and then let sit together and then cool to room temp.
Cut chicken into strips, and then large bite-size pieces.
Add to marinade. Refrigerate if going to be more than one hour until cooked. Can sit marinade 2-4 hours.

Heat sauté pan over medium high heat and add 1 T canola or coconut oil. Scoop chicken out of marinade and add to pan. Sauté for about 4 mins, turning. Right before removing, add reserved minced garlic, toss a bit for one minute, and then remove onto plate or atop rice on plate.

Nice served with plain steamed fresh local broccoli.
Otherwise add peas to rice, perhaps.
Or roast a sweet potato, in wedges. Or carrots, roasted or boiled/stove-top braised.