Garden to Kitchen: Broccoli w. Parmesan & Pine Nuts
One of the cool season crops I love most is broccoli. Years ago — before I knew better — I attempted to grow it in the middle of summer, and I couldn’t understand why it bolted and grew flowers instead of a head of broccoli. The flowers were lovely, but they didn’t do much for my kitchen other than provide something nice to look at.
But then I learned about the seasonality of crops (a good overview here), and realized that broccoli — like most cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, cabbage, etc) — likes cool weather. So now I know to plant them early — right after the last frost of winter.
Here’s what they looked like when I planted them early this season:
And growing strong in April:
And into the kitchen in May!
Tonight I’m making a recipe my mom & aunt made at a family gathering last weekend — Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan & Pine Nuts. It’s quite simple — just a few ingredients, and a few minutes of chopping — and incredibly delicious. The fresh broccoli is crisp-tender, flavored with rich olive oil and the contrasting brightness of fresh lemon zest, topped with crunchy pine nuts and savory parmesan. Here’s the recipe*:
Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan & Pine Nuts
Chop the broccoli, onions & garlic. Toss them on a baking sheet with some pine nuts. Sprinkle on a bit of fresh lemon juice (zest the lemon before squeezing the juice, and set the zest aside). Drizzle the veggies with good olive oil. Pop it in the oven at 400 degrees until it starts to brown — about 20 minutes. Stir it gently so the broccoli cooks evenly. Pop it back in the oven until it’s slightly more brown — about another 10-15 minutes. Chop the basil and shave the parmesan. Take the broccoli out of the oven and sprinkle it with basil, parmesan & lemon zest. Eat. Love.
The basil came from our garden, and it smells heavenly. If all goes well, later this season the onions and garlic will come from our garden as well. If only we could grow lemon trees here in Virginia — now that would be really heavenly!
Here’s the finished dish.
I have always been a veggie lover, so this dish was a surefire hit for me. But I knew it was officially delicious when I heard this from my eleven year old son: “Mom, may I have more broccoli please?” Chalk that up as a win.
* You’ll see that I often don’t designate specific quantities and measurements in my recipes. I do this because you know better than I how much food your family needs and what your tastes are. Cooking isn’t an exact science, anyway — it’s more of an art. (Baking is another story — it actually is science — so I include measurements for my baking recipes.) So use whatever quantity you’d like, make changes to suit your tastes, and substitute ingredients to reflect what’s fresh in the garden and what’s available in your kitchen.
** This is a beautiful saying we learned in Ecuador when we were adopting our son. There’s not a good literal translation from Spanish to English, because the loose translation — “Enjoy your meal” — doesn’t capture the full essence of the Spanish meaning. The verb “aprovechar” means to make the most of, to receive the full benefit of something. So “provecho” signifies the desire to make the most of something and receive all the benefits it has to offer. Thus, when we say, “buen provecho,” it is offering our hope that the eater will receive the full benefits and advantages of the food we’ve prepared. And that’s my wish for my friends and family when I cook for them — that they will receive all the goodness the food offers.