So, when it comes to meal planning, I’m kind of old fashioned.
I’m not quite sure why, but I often feel like a balanced meal should have three components. You gotta have your protein, your starch, and your veg. I don’t know exactly when or where I picked up this way of thinking about my dinner plate, but it’s deeply ingrained. Maybe it was from my mother, or maybe my grandmother. When I was studying abroad in France, a chef once told me that plates should always feature odd numbers because odd numbers are more “beautiful” than even ones. Maybe that’s why I’m partial to having three different things on my plate.
I really like to experiment with new recipes, but when it comes to filling those three little voids I keep an arsenal of quick and easy go-to recipes for when I’m feeling uninspired or in a rush. One of my favorite vegetable preparations is oven-roasted broccoli. It’s super simple, super healthy, and super delicious!
I’m sorry that I waited this long to share this recipe with you, but for a long time I actually thought it was too simple to necessitate a full post of it’s own. It’s not really very original or innovative, and it requires so little work or thought that I assumed it wasn’t worth writing about. A few weeks ago I made this for my mother and she mentioned that she’d never thought to make broccoli this way, and I realized that some of you might enjoy trying a new technique too!
I know a lot of people like to steam or boil their broccoli, so I thought it’d be nice to share another idea that’s just as easy and happens to be (in my opinion) more flavorful. Cooking broccoli with water can make it taste, well, watery. Rather than losing any flavor, roasting your broccoli concentrates and intensifies it. It requires little more work than chopping fresh broccoli into large bite-sized florets, tossing with some olive oil and salt & pepper, and sliding into the oven just long enough to give it a bit of color.
This preparation pairs really well with any number of meals. I’ve even used this method to pre-cook broccoli for pasta dishes or salads. It can also easily be tweaked or gussied up to fit the flavors of whatever you’ll be serving it with. If you wanted to add a little extra flavor before roasting, you could toss the broccoli in a little soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or hot sauce along with the olive oil. My favorite way to prepare it though is to roast it first and then squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the top to bring out the fresh bright green flavor without overpowering or covering it up.
This will work with other vegetables too, but cooking time may need to be adjusted. I just made some fresh local asparagus (Yay!! Asparagus season!!), roasted it for a few minutes less, and boy was it wonderful! I don’t think this would work very well with frozen vegetables though, because they’d likely end up mushy and overcooked. Part of the appeal of this technique is that vegetables maintain a little bit of their crisp texture and bite, which frozen vegetables have already lost.
Cutting up your own head of fresh broccoli is super easy and worth the little (tiny) bit of effort. I usually turn the head over stem-side-up (or on it’s side) and work around the head with a sharp knife cutting the florets off where they branch out naturally, rotating the head as I work my way in. If some of the florets are especially large you can cut them in half or in quarters, from top to bottom. Simple. Easy. Healthy. Delicious.
1/4-1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
Preheat oven to 425. Cut broccoli into large bite sized florets and place in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, & olive oil and toss toss toss until well coated. Spread evenly over a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until just starting to brown. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if desired.