BEST WAY TO COOK BROCCOLI
& COOKING ARTICLE
have my friend Caterina to thank for this ridiculously
simple and ridiculously delicious way to tackle a vegetable
that many people find uninspiring.
I should make it clear that I am not one of those people.
I grew to love broccoli when a member of the cruciferous
family appeared week after week in my vegetable basket.
In the Paris area, not much else grows during the winter
and I had no choice but to embrace it. This wasn't hard
when the broccoli, cauliflower or Italian romanesco
came from Joël Thiébault, an inspired vegetable
gardener who supplies the best restaurants in Paris.
I have to admit, though, that most often
the broccoli went into soup. In winter, I could eat
soup every day and possibly the most soothing of them
all is broccoli and cheese, which might involve cantal,
comté, cheddar (which I can find at Monoprix)
or roquefort. I start by sweating an onion in butter
or olive oil, then add the peeled and sliced broccoli
stems, a sliced potato and vegetable stock. When the
vegetables are tender, I throw in the cut-up broccoli
florets and cook for a few more minutes to preserve
their emerald-green color. Once they are soft, I purée
the soup with the cheese and perhaps a little crème
My sister will never forget this soup,
not just for its perfect balance of flavors but because,
in my first (and only) attempt at using her KitchenAid
blender, I sprayed it dramatically all over myself and
her kitchen. I think she will forever be finding dried
broccoli bits in places like her radio and her toaster.
(Lesson: never over-fill a blender.)
I love going to the market with Caterina, whose family
comes from Calabria and Piedmont, because she is like
a walking encyclopedia of northern and southern Italian
cooking. As we walked past a small farmer's stand where
the blueish-green broccoli looked particularly enticing,
I mentioned that although Sam loves its flower-like
stalks, Philippe is not thrilled to eat it as often
as we do. "Ah, but how do you prepare it?"
she asked, before giving me a Calabrian recipe.
Well, I can't really call it a recipe because it's
so easy. Just slice a couple of garlic cloves very thinly
and sauté them in a tablespoon of olive oil until
they start to turn pale golden. Add a pinch of peperoncino;
I use my own Espelette chilli powder, which I made by
drying and grinding fresh Espelette peppers with their
seeds last autumn. Then toss in about 1 lb of broccoli
florets with a few sprinklings of salt and just a little
water, no more than 1/4 cup. Cover tightly with a lid.
In a few minutes, the broccoli with be vivid green and
tender but not mushy. Let any excess water evaporate
over high heat. Serve on its own or toss with pasta
In this picture, the broccoli I used is the small variety
known as broccoletti; in springtime, it has an almost
buttery taste. Even Philippe can't resist it.
Jackson grew up in a Canadian prairie city known for
its giant mall. When her family moved to Paris for
two years while she was growing up, she discovered
patisseries and never looked back. Her early efforts
at making croissants and eclairs were total flops
but that didn't stop her. At 26 she left her job as
a food writer at a daily Canadian newspaper and moved
to Paris. After ten years in Paris, where she wrote
about restaurants for a number of guidebooks and magazines
and founded the company Edible Paris, she now spends
most of her time in Nice where she teaches Provençal
cooking in her home. She spends a few days every month
in Paris keeping up with restaurants, conducting food
tours, and sampling the finest patisseries and chocolates.
With a charming French husband and food-loving young
son, she considers her life just about perfect - www.petitsfarcis.com
Rosa Jackson - www.petitsfarcis.com
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org