Life, as they say, is an adventure. Or it can be made into one at times.
As adventures go, confronting a dreaded vegetable is probably lower on the danger scale than, say, herding an ill-tempered goat. There is, however, less of a chance of spontaneous vomiting with the goat.
Let us identify our enemy: broccoli. Even the name doesn’t have a particularly appetizing sound. Viz:
What is it exactly? Wikipedia to the rescue:
Even though they can be quite friendly, the larger ones will bite to protect themselves if you squeeze them….
Oh, sorry, that’s the Jumping spider, which is almost as freaky as today’s taste test target:
Broccoli is a plant of the Cabbage family…[and] possesses abundant fleshy green flower heads arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The large mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles its close relative cauliflower, but is green rather than white.
Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather. It is usually boiled or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors-d’oeuvre trays. Broccoli is high in vitamin C and soluble fiber. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, leading to an anticancer compound sulforaphane.
So there you have it.
When I asked Tom in an IM what his favorite broccoli preparation method was, he mentioned the popular dipping it in cheese. I had to tell him — much to my dismay — that cheese dipping wouldn’t work for Grown Diaries purposes, because I know I like cheese. :) In searching for various recipes (I wasn’t about to start raw with this one), I came across a couple of variations on a spicy broccoli theme, which I took a step further by enhancing the Asian-like flavor and substituting a grilling rather than a sautee. (I could finally christen my “grill wok” I got last Christmas. ;)
Here’s the basic recipe for Spicy Grilled Broccoli.
- One smallish head of broccoli
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Tom’s suggestion)
- 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
- Coarse salt
Cut off large stem of the broccoli head and cut remainder into individual spears. Simmer in 1 inch of water until tender, between 5-10 minutes. Remove broccoli and drain.
Put broccoli, oil, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and chopped garlic in a plastic container or zipped bag and shake well to cover.
Transfer contents to grill wok over high heat to briefly sear. (Watch for oil flareups.) Keep the spears moving and separated. Note that smaller spears will grill up faster than the larger ones.
Remove from grill once seared and sprinkle with coarse salt to taste.
Note: this is the first time in my life, at least that I can remember, that I enjoyed eating broccoli. I ate too much, though, and managed to nauseate myself. Oh the dangerous gauntlets I run, the sacrifices I make. ;D After a good brush and floss, as well as mouthwash gargle, I’m mostly better. Still iffy.
Impressions: the smaller pieces tasted better, but I think that’s because at that size the pepper and garlic were able to counteract the inherently and overly strong broccoli taste, so there was a balance there. I wonder if blanching them might not be a bad idea, to reduce some of that strength. Lord knows enough of the “flavor” suffused the kitchen during the brief simmer. (Denyse came in and told me she hoped it tasted better than it smelled. ;) Of course, we might lose some of those vitamins and other good stuff in the boiling.
So, all in all I would say this taste test was a qualified success — I ate and enjoyed (at least at first) some broccoli, albeit by masking its natural flavor with pepper and garlic. This is progress, if nothing else.