When I was a kid, we ate steamed broccoli. We didn’t like it, but we had to eat it before we could leave the table. Those were the rules. The classic solution to the problem didn’t work–the dog wouldn’t eat it either. Many meals in the Murphy household ended with slow, resentful chewing.
Then one summer, when I was about 12, my cousins from Indiana came to visit. My Aunt Mary made broccoli, but she did something totally unexpected–she put Cheez Whiz on it.
“So the kids will eat it,” she said.
My brother and I wrinkled our noses at each other. Cheez Whiz was…plastic in a can. But my cousins ate it. My brother and I discreetly scraped off the Cheez Whiz…but the trouble with Cheez Whiz is, it’s as hard to get rid of as asbestos popcorn on ceilings. After that, my brother and I ate our broccoli, and we kind of liked it. Or, at least I did. I think my brother was a little sneakier. The kid used to end up with food IN his ears after meals, so who knows what he REALLY did with his broccoli.
That said, this ad bothers me:
While it’s important to get kids to eat their vegetables, topping broccoli with mounds of cheese adds a lot of fat, calories, and cholesterol. I think this recipe does it a little better. Roasted broccoli is pretty amazing–it gets a little crispy in the oven, and it takes on a lot of awesome flavor with the garlic, lemon juice, and toasted pine nuts. The majority of the fats in this dish are heart-healthy fats from olive oil and pine nuts. Also, a little sprinkle of parmesano reggiano goes a lot further flavor-wise than a whole pile of mild cheddar, and using less cheese keeps the extra calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol at bay.
2 lb broccoli, cut into florets (leave a little bit of stalk attached)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp EVOO
½ tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
zest and juice of half a lemon
¼ c pine nuts, toasted
a small sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesano Reggiano
a handful of fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the broccoli florets on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the garlic slices over the broccoli and drizzle with a tablespoon of EVOO. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
- Remove from the oven and immediately toss with 1 tbsp EVOO, lemon juice and zest, pine nuts, Parmesano Reggiano, and basil. Serve, um, now.