Monday, 22 December 2014

Grilled broccoli with chile and garlic

Grilled broccoli with chile and garlic

Even if we are in the middle of the festive season, I am not going to give a recipe for Christmas or New Year's Eve parties. With just few days left to Christmas, it's likely that most people have already planned where and how they will enjoy their festive meals; and those who are going to host a lunch or dinner at home, at this time, have probably decided all the recipes they are going to serve and maybe already started the preparation of some dishes. So I want to share another kind of recipe - which probably would make a good impression even on the Christmas table. In particular it is a recipe for broccoli, one of my all-time favorite seasonal product that I like to prepare and serve in many ways: simply boiled with a dressing of extra-virgin olive oil, broccoli is a very versatile side-dish going well with fish, meat, chicken and eggs, but it can be transformed into several different kinds of tasty sauces for pasta or other vegetarian main courses or into delicious side-dishes, alone or mixed with other winter vegetables. Today's recipe is featured in a cookbook that I am consulting a lot lately and is a great source of inspiration, "Ottolenghi The Cookbook" (other recipes from the book here). This recipe is actually a different version of one I use very often for broccoli; in fact while ingredients are the same (basically just broccoli, garlic, chile and olive oil, to which I sometimes add anchovy fillets), the cooking method makes the difference: I use to boil broccoli, then stir-fry with garlic and chile, while  Ottolenghi, after boiling broccoli, grill it and then toss with olive oil, garlic and chile previously cooked together. It's very interesting to experiment how, simply using two different cooking techniques with the same ingredients, it is possible to obtain two different dishes (in this case both very tasty and flavorful).

Grilled broccoli with chile and garlic

Grilled broccoli with chile and garlic
adapted from "Ottolenghi- The cookbook"
serves 2 to 4
2 heads of broccoli (about 500g)
100 ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and black pepper
toasted flaked almonds or very thin slices of lemon (with skin), to garnish (optional)
Prepare the broccoli: separate each head into florets (leave on the florets' individual stems); fill a large saucepan with plenty of water and bring to a boil; throw in the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes only (not longer) then transfer the broccoli to a bowl full of ice-cold water in order to stop the cooking at once. Drain in a colander and allow to dry completely. It is important that the broccoli isn't wet at all. 
Once the broccoli is dry, in a mixing bowl, toss with 40 ml oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Place a ridged grill pan over high heat, until it is extremely hot. Grill the broccoli in batches on the hot pan, turning them so they get char marks all over. Transfer to a heatproof bowl while grilling another batch.
While grilling the broccoli, place the remaining 60 ml oil in a small saucepan with garlic and chiles. Cook them over medium heat until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic and chile burn, since they will keep on cooking even when off the heat. Pour the oil, garlic, and chile over the hot broccoli and toss together well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. 
Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you like, you can garnish the broccoli with almonds or lemon just before serving. I omitted.
Note: for a more intense flavor add four or five anchovy fillets to the chile and garlic when cooking them in the oil.


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