Sunday, January 6, 2013

Beautiful Broccoli

Broccoli is one of those foods that can really dress up a plate. When steamed, it retains its bright green color and attractive shape. Plain steamed broccoli is a wonderful dish in itself, served plain or with cheese sauce or with oil and garlic or Parmesan and lemon juice.

Broccoli is also one of those foods beloved by nutritionists. It is loaded with all sorts of good stuff and is reputed to improve health. Although I try to eat a healthy diet, my main interest in broccoli is its taste and versatility.

Panera Bread's best-selling soup, I've read, is its broccoli cheese soup, which is certainly tasty. The online recipe world has scores of recipes that swear they have found the magic formula, but I'm not convinced. Still, I make a broccoli cheddar soup quickly, and it's a great dish to enjoy in cold weather.

Usually I steam, stir fry or roast broccoli when I'm cooking just for myself. This also maintains its nutrients and appearance. Occasionally, however, I will make a broccoli casserole, especially if I'm feeding several other people. This recipe is far tastier than you would imagine from reading the ingredients. It sounds a bit ho-hum, but the combination of textures and tastes is practically addicting (you can use cauliflower instead):
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. herb stuffing (I use Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
Steam the broccoli lightly and place in a large, shallow, oiled casserole dish. Make a cream sauce by melting the 3 TBSP butter, adding the flour, and whisking in the milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then pour over the broccoli. Finally, combine the stuffing, water, and melted butter. Toss lightly and spoon over the top of the casserole. Press down gently. Then bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 

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