Broccoli salad with bacon and pecans

March 5, 2013 § 13 Comments

broccoli salad dressed

It is decidedly not spring here yet.  In fact, it’s blowing ferociously and snowing several inches outside right now (just a stone’s throw further south they’re getting close to 10 inches, but we’re getting only brushed by the storm).

I remember the day in March in 2nd grade when our teacher taught us the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”  She even had a paper cut out lion and lamb thumb tacked up on the cork board to drive the point home.

We were all mystified.  No, no, no.  The saying was all wrong, we pointed out (after the metaphor had been explained).  March comes in like a lion and it goes out like a lion too.  Maybe an ever so slightly more docile lion, but a lion nonetheless.

blanched broccoligreen onions for slicing

That’s Minnesota for you.

So, no, no spring yet.  It makes me miss the other places I’ve lived, the places where crocuses and daffodils start intrepidly strutting about in March.  However, the yearning for spring isn’t desperate yet.  Not desperate, but on the other hand, I’m definitely not as into root vegetables as I was a couple months ago.

In my need for a change of pace, I found myself craving broccoli salad a few days ago, something that does not happen often at all, except for the odd day midsummer when it sounds good, or when I’m several time zones out of my element, running late for a wedding rehearsal, and my stomach is growling audibly, and I’m standing in front of a deli counter.  It happens sometimes then too. « Read the rest of this entry »

Broccoli cheddar and apple gratin

November 28, 2012 § 18 Comments

Fair ladies, kind gentlemen!  I bring you: more broccoli!

Yes.  More broccoli.  Consider it another delicious stepping stone on the cruciferal march toward that cauliflower with harissa cream that I mentioned, and I swear I am working on, and it will appear any day now.

As a reward for your patience (or a way of buying it, perhaps?) though, this gratin is none too shabby, at least that much I can promise.

But first and foremost, for those of you who had Thanksgiving last week, how did it go?  Are you still stuffed?  Ours was quite the gathering, the most rollicking Thanksgiving I’ve been to in years, perhaps ever.

We were not only my family but also Joel’s, and on top of that not one but precisely six Norwegian students, here in Minnesota studying at various universities and connected to my mother in various ways.

The turkey was gargantuan, the gravy flowing, the Brussels sprouts piled high, and the pies numerous and flaky.  The conversation was sparkling.  Also, loud.  Norwegian Americans may be reticent, but Norwegian Norwegians generally aren’t. Nor is my family.  Plus, my grandmother was in the midst of everything exhibiting her talent for handwriting interpretation (mine = hard to read) and discussing Project Runway.  Always a kick. « Read the rest of this entry »

Broccoli soup with parmesan and lemon

November 21, 2012 § 15 Comments

I’m going to make this one quick because, let’s face it, I don’t have much spare time today, and you don’t either.  Too much crimping of pie edges, dry brining of turkeys, simmering of cranberries, and such and so to be done.

Or, if we’re completely honest, spilling of half bowls of pie dough on the floor, forgetting to take out the turkey, and smoldering of forgotten pots of cranberries.  I am thankful for (among the many more standard things that I am deeply grateful for) brooms, basting with butter (a highly worthy alternative to brining), and smoke detectors.  Though perhaps not in that order.

I am also thankful for this soup because it is the solution to the ‘what shall we eat the night before Thanksgiving?’ dilemma.  (Or if you are in another country, it’s the solution to almost any other dilemma you can come up with.)

I love this recipe in part because the way Merrill – one of the cofounders of Food52 – came up with it is the same way I come up with ever so many dinners.  She saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon” written on a coffee shop signboard.  She thought to herself, “da@* that sounds good” (it’s the holidays, so I’m being careful with my naughty words, see?), and proceeded to try to make her own version.

I have done the same many a time.  Also, the exact same thought ran through my own head when I saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon,” so I knew I had to make it tout de suite. « Read the rest of this entry »

Sweet corn polenta with broccoli pesto

August 19, 2012 § 27 Comments

Was I the one grumping up a storm and hemming and hawing over what to do with the sheer quantity of summer produce around?  Me?  Well, I take it all back!  Every word of it! It never happened.  I never said it.

Now I’m like all those guys in all those movies, running after the train as it pulls out of the station, crying, “waaaaaiiit!!!!”  Because my true love is on that train.  Except, the train is actually summer.  And my love?  Sweet corn polenta.

In a long line of obsessions, sweet corn polenta is my latest.  It has taken over our diet in the last couple of weeks, just as sweet corn season is winding down (sad face).  Kimchi tacos are still at the tippy top of my favorite things ever list for the moment, and a most exciting delivery of delicious treats from a friend in Hawaii has skyrocketed passion fruit ginger jam up to join the tacos in first place.  (I may become totally open to genetically modified foods if someone can figure out a way to create a passion fruit plant that will generate fruit in northern Minnesota.  Anyone?)  But, sweet corn polenta is breathing down their necks. « Read the rest of this entry »

The best broccoli. (Roasted broccoli with lemon and garlic)

September 23, 2010 § 3 Comments

(well, unless you added bacon, then it might be even better)

Some people’s husbands are meat and potatoes guys.  Some are foi gras and wine guys.  Mine is a broccoli guy.  Like, a really serious broccoli guy.  He has wide and varied interests, but he likes broccoli so much that it was actually one of the first things I learned about him.  We were at a potluck and he had brought several pounds of the stuff as his contribution. “Joel really likes broccoli,” a mutual friend announced, with this kind of sage air of understanding.  It appears to have almost legendary status among his friends from college (along with the time he had a dinner party and served only steak and strawberries, which is, er, unique).  So, when I prepared broccoli in this way and he busted out with, “oh my gosh!  This is amazing!  This is the best!”  I took it seriously.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell because part of his job is to be ridiculously and over the top enthusiastic about anything I cook.  But, this was total, uncalculated enthusiasm.  An unequivocal endorsement.  And it was so easy!  I love that, when you find a way of preparing a food that’s barely harder than turning your oven on, but it comes out tasting like you should wrap it up with a sparkly bow and give it to your friends as a Christmas present.  (Except that with some things, like broccoli, that would be really weird and perishable, and probably pretty soon you wouldn’t have any friends left, or at least all your friends would say, “oh I’m really not taking presents this year.”  Although, actually, I don’t think I’d really mind receiving broccoli as a Christmas present.  It would be better than scented candles.) « Read the rest of this entry »

How to cook random greens: method 1

September 18, 2009 § 8 Comments

I think it’s a fairly safe thing to say that virtually all of us know we’re supposed to be eating more vegetables. It’s become a cultural mantra: “eat your veggies.” And, at the very top of the list, the most hallowed of vegetable choices, are the leafy greens…you know, the very ones most people push to the side of the plate with a skeptical look as they turn to food choices that are, well, less green.

The reputation of leafy greens as a super food is actually pretty well deserved. They’re a good source of about 90% of the various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and such and so, that help the body function. Need vitamin A? Leafy greens! Need iron? Leafy greens! Need potassium? Leafy greens! Need xeaxanthin? Leafy greens! (I know we all spend a lot of time musing about how to get more xeaxanthin in our diets…In case you’re wondering, it helps prevent eye damage as you age.) More important than the nutrients, in my opinion, is that overall diet patterns that include lots of leafy green veggies tend to be associated with better health. Plus, they’ve got lots of fiber to keep everything in your system, ahem, moving.

In general we’re failing miserably to include enough greenery in our diets. We are trying though. Broccoli, is by far and away the most frequently chosen green. I recently saw some analysis of national sales data, showing that broccoli consumption is something like 13 times higher now than in 1960. But there’s so much more to the leafy green category than broccoli – or spinach for that matter, in spite of the persistent message of Popeye – however it seems that most of the greens out there are intimidating to people. I have friends who are good cooks, have even studied nutrition, yet they cower when they are faced with kale or collards. « Read the rest of this entry »

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