Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I love planting my garden in Todi. I love it so much that I often get carried away. Why plant six cabbages when you can (almost) as easily plant 12? And why just one variety when six will be so much better? You can see where I’m going here.
Yes. It’s that time of the year when we play “what can I do with my cruciferous vegetables tonight?” At the beginning, when the first harvest of broccoli, cabbage, cavolo nero and other crunchy winter veggies come in, I’m more than happy to just steam or saute them, basking in their just picked freshness.
But by cabbage number 8, I’m thinking, really?
Which is when I turn to one of my favorite food blogs ever: 101 Cookbooks. I have to admit that this site escaped me longer than most other people. I know, I know. It’s only THE most popular recipe web site in - I think - the world. But for some reason I thought it had to do with cookbooks, and so never thought of looking there for real life recipes.
But a while back , my friend Mona mentioned that Heidi Swanson was coming to the Academy for lunch, and did I want to meet her? I knew from past experiences that when Mona asks me something like that, it means that Heidi was someone I’d enjoy meeting. So, pretending I knew exactly who she was, I googled her up and - finally - discovered her amazing web site.
Why amazing? Because for anyone interested in thinking outside the box when it comes to vegetables - but not wanting to venture into the fancy/foamy/heavy - this is holy grail. Heidi was one of the pioneers of food blogs, and so her archive is huge, going back about nine years. Just pick a vegetable, any vegetable, and you are sure to find a recipe that will blow your socks off.
So I spun the 101 Cookbooks wheel the other night, and came up with Broccoli Crunch. What sounds like some sort of vegan candy bar, turned out to be a delicious, healthy and gorgeous salad that I am declaring a staple in our house from this day forth.
The other thing I like about Heidi’s recipes? They use normal, every day ingredients that most of us have in our pantry. But if you’re missing one or two, that’s ok too. She’s forgiving and encourages improvisation.
But back to the Crunch. My starting point was kilos of bright green broccoli, straight from the garden. And happily I had every other ingredient on the list, even the almond butter. (this is my new secret ingredient. Buy a jar, and use it in everything from oatmeal in the morning, to salad dressing at night. You’ll thank me)
The finishing touch was topping the salad with roasted almonds, which actually came via Mona and the American Academy's Rome Sustainable Food Program. So it all came full circle, which is kind of nice.
101 Cookbooks’ Broccoli Crunch
(very slightly adapted)
5 cups broccoli florets
1 crushed garlic clove
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tsp honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons hot water
1 firm apple
2 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1/3 cup browned shallots
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the broccoli florets for 45 seconds, then immediately drain and plunge into ice water to cook down. Once cook, drain well and pat gently dry.
In small bowl place crushed garlic, salt, almond butter and honey. Stir to mix well. Add the olive oil and juices and mix again. Add enough hot water to thin out enough to become dressing consistency.
Finally chop shallot, and cook in skillet for about 15 minutes, in butter, over very low heat, until well browned but not burnt.
Cut apple into thin slices. (do this at the last minute, or else they will brown)
Assemble salad by mixing all the ingredients together and tossing with dressing.
Although the salad is best just as you make it, we had leftovers the next day which were excellent. The trick is not over cooking the broccoli, so that it retains it’s ‘crunch’.
I know this will encourage you to visit Heidi's web site. But since 'tis the season, you should also look at her cookbooks, which are as gorgeous as they are delicious. Her newest is Super Natural Everyday. Makes the perfect give, don't you think?