Broccoli and cauliflower are such misunderstood vegetables. They seem to be coupled with ingredients that are chosen to hide their taste rather than complement it: loads of artificial melted cheese and cream will do the trick. But when you combine broccoli with healthy ingredients such as garlic, olive oil and nuts the result is simply delicious. With that in mind I’m sharing this simple Mediterranean inspired broccoli recipe.
This particular time I found purple broccoli at the market. According to the farmer, this type of broccoli is an older variety in Greece compared to the green type. I wasn’t sure about that, but I bought it anyway as cruciferous vegetables and bright colored vegetables are full of antioxidants and other substances that protect from various diseases particularly cancer, and this purple broccoli fit the bill plus it was really pretty and the taste is almost the same as the regular green variety.
Upon reading about broccoli, I was not aware that it is native to the Mediterranean (particularly Italy) and Asia Minor, since Greeks usually just boil or steam broccoli and serve it with an olive oil-lemon dressing. The Italians however, have some pretty interesting recipes such as broccoli with sardines and broccoli -garlic sauce which I can’t wait to try!
Generally, I like roasting these cruciferous vegetables with olive oil. Broccoli goes well with garlic and lemon, so I basically dump the broccoli in a pan, squeeze some lemon, pour some olive oil, add garlic and a bit of parmesan and bake it. I sometimes sprinkle some walnuts or pine nuts and it really is a wonderful dish. I do the same thing with cauliflower and it’s always a big hit.
Once more I will say that my older son who is 4 ate almost the whole pan. I don’t bring this up to “show off”, he does like all the foods that kids like (pasta, chocolate etc.) but I’m just trying to show that you can make “difficult” vegetables an attractive choice for kids (and adults) by adding the right ingredients. Now I do need to say that I use a bit of olive oil for this recipe, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup for 2 medium heads of broccoli. There is no need to be worried, considering that broccoli has very few calories; about 30 per one cup of cooked broccoli. So the total amount of calories comes up to about 150 per serving. Apart from all those beneficial compounds, broccoli is a great source of fiber, folic acid and vitamin C. And yes some of these substances will be lost when broccoli is cooked, but roasting is one of the best ways to cook them. Since there is no water involved the loss of nutrients is minimal, compared to boiling.
Mediterranean Style Roasted Broccoli
- 2 medium heads of broccoli
- 1/3 -1/2 cup olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- walnuts/pine nuts optional
- Preheat oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius)
- Separate the broccoli so you have small florets.
- Soak in water, rinse and dry.
- Put broccoli in a pan so that they the florets are in one layer
- Squeeze some lemon juice and mix.
- Crush garlic gloves and add to broccoli along with freshly ground pepper and mix.
- Add olive oil and mix well making sure all broccoli is coated well.
- Bake for about 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle grated parmesan, add salt to taste and serve.