A couple of years ago I went to visit Gerrit (then my fiance) at school and we were sitting in his apartment on a Saturday morning watching Food Network (probably mostly passing time until we could go have lunch at our favorite restaurant). Ina Garten was on, showing, of course, how to do all things easy and she started making this broccoli. Chopping it, pouring olive oil over it, roasting it, adding cheese. And that was the moment the light bulb clicked for me, that I could do something like that, and perhaps I might even learn to like a few vegetables. I mean, broccoli has never been that bad to me, okay enough that I could wash it down with some milk ( know, I’m about five years old). And she claimed that roasting it completely changed the flavor into deliciousness.
So a few weeks later I was at my parents’ house, helping my mom come up with something to have for dinner, and I suggested the broccoli that I had seen. We made it and all loved it, so much so that I think I probably made it about 3 or 4 times over the next couple of weeks at the request of my family.
Like so many other roasted vegetable recipes, this broccoli is incredibly adaptable. If you don’t have the lemon zest or the pine nuts or the basil, it’s not a reason not to make this. The baking time is completely subjective. Twenty to twenty-five minutes is good, but this is one thing I uncharacteristically like to over cook, so that the tender edges of the broccoli are slightly overdone, almost charred, giving a nice crunch when you bite into it.
Another note: be careful not to over-do it on the lemon juice. This is one of those recipes that really makes me feel like a cook, because I hardly measure a thing. But if you add too much lemon zest or juice, it can overpower even the Parmesan cheese, and honestly it makes my teeth hurt. But aside from that, it’s hard to mess this up.
So if you’ve never tried a roasted vegetable, this is a great place to start.
Want more? Try some roasted squash, roasted Brussels sprouts (which, surprisingly, have been one of my favorites), some roasted eggplant, or some roasted winter squash.
Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
adapted from Ina Garten
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
4-5 lbs. broccoli
6-7 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.*
2. Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalk. Then cut the pieces (from bottom to top) into smaller, bite-sized florets. (By cutting from the bottom, you will have a guide as to where best to cut according to the stalks already there, and it will not make so much of a mess as cutting broccoli from the top does.) Leave an inch or two of thin stalk at the bottom of each floret, or less according to personal preference. Discard the extra stalks.
3. Place the broccoli on a sheet tray, along with the garlic, spreading them out into a single layer. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until some of the florets are beginning to brown.
5. Remove from oven and toss with lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and basil. If necessary, return to the oven for 3-5 minutes, just enough for the cheese to melt (but leave the basil off until after you remove it from the oven for the final time). Serve hot.
*I often cook it at a lower temperature (375 or 350) for a longer time, and it works just as well.