You may or may not know, I am in Alabama right now.
I’ve been in Birmingham since June 18th rehearsing and performing in a production of Legally Blonde the Musical. Much to my chagrin, I was not hired to play Elle. They were not interested in my 6’2” drag interpretation of her character.
Food shopping away from my beloved black hole of insanity (thePark Slope Food Coop) is challenging. We live across the street from a WalMart and Sam’s Club, and there’s a Whole Foods about 6 miles away, but the opportunities for local produce are limited to once-a-week farmers’ markets that close at noon on Saturday. CLOSE. So when I’m in rehearsal all day on the weekend, I miss these markets entirely. Shed a tear for me. Anyway, I’m off topic, I’ll have more to report on the food situation here later.
For now, we must discuss broccoli.
One of my castmates purchased inhuman amounts of frozen florets at Sam’s Club the day we arrived. He said he really loved the stuff (obvious from the size of his purchase). When I asked how he prepared it, he said “Oh, I just steam it, I brought this little thing that sits right in a pot above water, it’s great.”
Darlings. Let’s get one thing straight(not me):
Whether you’re using fresh or frozen, organic or pesticided, local or flown in from Argentina, steaming is a most cruel and unusual punishment for any and all vegetables.
He fought back with, “Well, what are you supposed to do with broccoli?” as if vegetables were born with a sign on their back saying steam me. “Do you bake it?”
*cue eye roll
I informed my dear castmate that when you put vegetables in the oven it is only polite to refer to their cooking method as Roasting (yes, with a royal R). Baking, a word which in many other circumstances takes on a vaunted height and a beautiful crust of meaning, pales and weakens when applied to a dish of sausages or a tray of mid-winter roots. Baked broccoli sounds terrible, horrible, no good, very bad. But crisp roasted broccoli, broccoli so toasted its crowns are burnished to a shimmery golden-black, broccoli that I can eat by the handful; that is something to crow about.
And really, what is there to gain from steaming? I suppose it leaves your vegetable bounty full of color, but in every other way the treat has been robbed of its essence. No texture! No flavor! I exhort you, stop steaming vegetables. What have they ever done to deserve such a death?
Instead, crank your oven to a frighteningly high temperature and slide in a tray of bright green broccoli studded with whole garlic cloves and drizzled with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper. I realize proposing you turn on your oven in the middle of summer is tantamount to torture, so, if you must, keep this recipe on hand for cooler days. Or rather, commit the technique to memory, it won’t fail you when the crisp Fall rolls in.
- 2 heads Broccoli
- 1 head garlic
- 3-4 tbs olive oil
- Salt, pepper, spices
- Heat your oven to 500 degrees.
- Cut the crowns from the stems and split them into edible pieces.
- Peel the stems (the outer skin is tough as bark) and cut them into sitcks.
- Pop the skins off an entire head of garlic cloves.
- Toss the broccoli and garlic into a roasting tray (in one layer if possible) and drizzle with oilve oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper and whatever other flavors you might want to clear out of your dessicated spice rack.
- Roast everything for 20-30 minutes, or until the broccoli is blackened on the edges and crispy-dark. Remove from the oven and try not to eat it before you get the dish to your table for dinner.