The question, "What are we having for dinner?" is quite often followed closely by, "What are we having with dinner?" Roasted vegetables are one of our favorite answers to the question of the quick weeknight side dish, and my latest pick for roasted goodness is broccoli. This recipe takes just a few minutes to throw into the oven and it emerges toasty around the edges and garlicky and a little spicy, if you like.
I have strong feelings about cooked broccoli. Like green beans, it's a vegetable that's often left nearly raw, under the assumption that it's healthier or better-tasting when not overcooked into mush. Now, I'm not a fan of mush, but broccoli (and green beans) are tough, fibrous vegetables, and when cooking them I find it better to really have at them until they are supple and tender. Which is not to say that I don't appreciate raw broccoli; in slaws I like its snappy crunch. But it should go one way or the other, not sit in the middle, confused.
This recipe roasts the broccoli until it's quite tender in the center, and until the florets develop a bit of char around the edges. This adds so much flavor to the dish, giving the lie to the idea that the only way to make vegetables really irresistible is to add lots of fat.
It's also so easy to throw a head of broccoli in the oven, tossed with a little oil, garlic, and vinegar (red pepper flakes too, if you have a taste for the spicy). While the broccoli roasts you can make a pot of pasta, or a pan of chicken. It's the side dish that goes with nearly anything, on nearly any evening.
Garlicky Roasted Broccoli
cloves garlic, peeled
Red pepper flakes, optional
Lemon wedges, to garnish
Heat the oven to 450°F. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets, and slice the stems into diagonal bite-sized pieces. (Peel the broccoli stems if you want to; I don't bother.)
Blend the olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and salt in a small food processor until thick and creamy. (Or smash the garlic in a mortar and pestle and whisk in a bowl with the other dressing ingredients.) If desired, add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Toss with the broccoli and spread on a baking sheet.
Roast for 12 to 15 minutes or until broccoli is tender and the edges are singed. If you desire an extra measure of smokiness, switch the oven to broil, and move the baking sheet up to the highest rack. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes.
Serve hot or cold with wedges of lemon.