Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chili Roasted Broccoli

And now a break from my Math Major writing skills for a little treat from a real writer and great friend. Thanks to Josh for taking pictures of the delicious side dish that he made for our Moroccan dinner this weekend.

Broccoli gets a bad wrap because most of us ate it steamed (or even microwaved) as kids. I know as a kid that when mom put broccoli on the table I was going to have to eat the requisite number of pieces if I wanted dessert later. Broccoli has always had a bad wrap in my mind, but is actually pretty awesome and not just coated in an MSG-laden Chinese brown sauce. This broccoli is easy to make and for some reason, seems complex, making it even better to share with friends or those you are trying to impress. If broccoli made your pee smell the way asparagus did, it would be the most unstoppable veggie side-dish ever. I made this Chili Roasted Broccoli as a side dish for dinner at the deThomas' house the other night and it didn't make everyone sick, so I figured it had to be a winner.
Chili Roasted Broccoli
A Bunch of Stalks of Broccoli
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes

First step begins at the grocery store. Most stores try to sell you broccoli by the pound, and since you wont be using the long, thick stems, break them off and leave them in the store. That's not really a cooking tip, but just handy advice for life. Never buy things you don't need. Bet you didn't think this side dish would come with a side of fiscal responsibility; you're welcome.
Editor's Note: If you do not want to have your picture posted in the "Most Wanted" section of your local Wholefoods, don't go grocery shopping with Josh.

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. At home, take the broccoli and chop excess stems. Don't worry about cutting things to perfect size; my knife skills are most similar to Blinkin from Robin Hood Men in Tights, and I would definitely disappoint Gail Simmons. The goal is just to get the broccoli into smaller florets.
3. Once the florets are in a bowl, pour some Extra Virgin Olive Oil liberally on top and toss the florets about, so the broccoli is a bit oiled. Like any good Jersey Shore native (Editor's Note: Kelaine) would tell you, you don't need much oil to get the bronzing you want.

4. Next, get a baking sheet and pour more olive oil onto it. The goal here is to be able to spread it over most of the pan. If you have one of those cooking paint brushes, this is a good use for it. Or just use your hands.
5. Then spread the florets over the oil coated baking sheet. You don't want broccoli on top of each other; ideally they are all on oil so that they can brown up along the edges. At this point, the seasoning occurs. Go to town on the salt and pepper and chili flakes. When you are all set, put the baking sheet into the oven and set a timer for 14 minutes.6. After 14 minutes, pull the tray out. You will notice that the broccoli hasn't browned much, and has drastically cooked down. It will also smell like cooked broccoli, which has never been a great indicator of success. If you're anything like me, its at this point you will probably worry that the dish isn't going to turn out so great, and its important to remind yourself that Emily likes Mark, so she'll apparently go for anything. Stay the course!
7. Take a spatula and move the broccoli around so that the pan-side down goes to pan-side up. Like any good Jersey Shore native would tell you, its all about an even char. Throw the broccoli in for another 10 minutes.8. After 10 minutes, the broccoli should have a nice dark crisp to the edges. If it sticks to the baking sheet, you know you are in business. Go for another light coat of salt and pepper (and if you like spicy, some more red pepper flakes) and the broccoli is ready to serve.

One Year Ago: Creamy Split Pea Soup with Tofu

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