Broccoli gets a bad rap. It doesn’t have a champion like Popeye. Plus there is a lot of awful (not awfully funny) humor about this healthy green vegetable; in fact, my Google search came up with 847,000 responses to the phrase “broccoli jokes.” And then there is broccoli’s reputation as a vegetable that doesn’t play so well with other ingredients. But if you just put all that aside and focus on the facts, broccoli may surprise you.
Steamed or stir-fried, broccoli is just fine. But if you’re adventurous, roast it for a vegetable treat that is crispy yet soft, healthy but scrumptious, easy to eat on its own but also great in salads or with pasta.
According to Barbara Kafka, who has written a whole book on roasting, all you need to roast is high (dry) heat and fat. Although one normally thinks of roasting as requiring an oven, a decent toaster-oven with a temperature gauge can do just as well for small jobs. And for fat, all you need is a drizzle of oil that has a high enough smoke point to withstand the temperature that you use.
This recipe is ridiculously easy. It yields enough to 2 as a side dish way on its own, or added to pasta primavera, a composed salad, or tossed with lettuce, pine nuts, and a bit of balsamic or regular oil-and-vinegar dressing. I particularly like it because it requires no tending or stirring at all and it uses a toaster oven instead of heating up your kitchen (or the whole house) with the full oven.
Toaster-Oven Roasted Broccoli
- 6-8 ounces of fresh broccoli.
- 1-2 tablespoons of oil (I used safflower)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Equipment (besides a toaster oven)
- Cutting board
- Pre-heat the toaster oven, just as you would a “regular” oven, to 450 degrees F/230 degrees Celsius.
- Cut the broccoli into reasonably thin pieces with one side flat enough to sit on the pan. I prefer broccoli with a short stem for this recipe, but you could use “crowns” or florets without the stem. The stems do get a bit tough as they cool. I don’t mind that texture, but if you do, use crowns/florets.
- Spread a thin layer of oil in the pan. Put the broccoli in the pan, flat side down. Arrange the pieces so that they do not overlap. Drizzle a bit more oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the pieces.
- Roast the broccoli for approximately 20 minutes. Do not move or turn the pieces – as they roast, they will brown on the flat side against the bottom of the pan, as well as on the top.
Oops. As I wrote this post, I snacked on the tray of roasted broccoli that I just made and now I hardly have any left to add to my “Meatless Monday” pasta for dinner. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to make some more.