Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It’s not easy eating green…

And no, I’m not talking organic or Muppets. I’m talking broccoli today. I know, I know, practically a health food entry, but we all know that you can do very bad things to broccoli. Things that give vegetables the willies. Things like cheese sauce of a color normally found in roadside paint. (Not that I’m knocking Velveeta or anything, because you know the deep and unfathomable love I have for Ro-Tel Dip, of which Velveeta is a major component.) (And, if you click on the link and look at the recipe, get a big laugh out of the suggested serving size—2 Tablespoons! Ha! Why do they even bother putting nutritional information out about this? Who cares? If you are eating and enjoying Ro-Tel Dip, you don’t give a damn about the calorie count…you just care about running out of corn chips and having to resort to the previously untouched veggie tray to scoop it up.)

Until very recently, I’ve had a sort of bleh relationship with broccoli. Remember waaaay back in the 80s when broccoli was the new hip “in” veggie, and you couldn’t get away from it? We never had broccoli growing up…heck I don’t think you could even buy it in the Small Southern Town in which I lived. I remember seeing it in my high school cafeteria (after we’d moved to Larger Southern City) and promptly ignoring it in favor of the salad bar topped off with a 3 Musketeers Bar, back when I had a metabolism.

Probably the only thing I’ve ever had in common with George the Elder Bush was a dislike of broccoli…mainly because I was just sick and tired of eating mushy bright green crap. I’d eat broccoli on occasion, in a Chinese dish or two, but I never went out of my way to actually order it. I cringed every time a waitron mentioned that the “Vegetable of the Day” was a broccoli-cauliflower medley. Bah! What’s worse than overcooked broccoli? Overcooked broccoli that’s been swimming around with overcooked cauliflower. (I really dislike cooked cauliflower…really. And, no way in hell does it ever stand in for mashed potatoes on the Atkins Diet. As if. Double harrumph!)

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, which was news to me (thanks Wikipedia!). The Italians, great food innovators they are, knew about broccoli long before the rest of the gruel swilling world. Gotta love those Italians!

Anyway, I’ve been sort of undergoing a little broccoli renaissance. I sort of credit to Sweet Tomatoes, which is a nice little salad bar restaurant. They have this concoction known as “Joan’s Broccoli Madness,” which is chock-full o’ things besides broccoli…like nuts and raisins. Madness, I tell you, madness! Here’s the recipe, which I found on the Internet, of all things, and you can see why it’s a good thing. And no, I’m not posting the nutritional information. Let’s just say I’ll never look at Broccoli Madness in quite the same way again. (FYI: Souplantation is what Sweet Tomatoes seems to be called on the West Coast)

Souplantation's Joan's Broccoli Madness Salad from the San Diego Union Tribune

6 to 8 servings

1 bunch uncooked broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon

1/2 cup cashews

1/3 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped red onion


1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Mix the broccoli, bacon, cashews, raisins and onions in a large bowl. In a second bowl, beat dressing ingredients together gently until smooth.

About 10 minutes before serving, toss the salad with the dressing to allow flavors to meld. Serve on chilled salad dishes.

Anyway, back to my broccoli renaissance. For some reason, I have been on a real broccoli kick. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally figured out how to steam the damn stuff and not turn it into non-edible green mush. You may not have a problem with the steaming, but evidently it’s more of an art than I realized. And for the love of Pete, I cannot seem to ever cook the frozen broccoli properly. I’ve actually had it dissolve into little tiny green broccoli crumbs before…convenience food, my eye.

I have this double-boiler that came with a steamer pot insert—it’s just like the double boiler pot, but with holes in the bottom. It’s really cool. and I think works much better than that funky basket steamer…which seems to only be good for steaming Chinese dumplings in the wok. (The bamboo basket steamer is still a mystery, and I just don’t have time to deal with it right now.)

Anyway, I put about a cup of water in the bottom pot, bring it to a boil, and put the steamer pot on top for 3 minutes. (Yes, I time the damn thing. How sad is that!) Then, I dump the water out of the bottom pot, set it back on the still hot burner and dump the steamed broccoli in to sort of dry out. Then, I put a little butter on it and some kosher salt, and voila! Semi-healthy vegetable side dish! (I am so not giving up butter!)

And, I’m not eating frog legs either…that’s a whole ‘nother posting.

1 comment:

Lin said...

Love the fractal brocolli picture! Steamed brocolli is a staple at our house, especially in the winter when I crave green things. Joseph will eat it without complaining as long as I drizzle from ranch dressing across it so he thinks he's getting something extra.