Magic Broccoli

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This summer, some friends and I made dinner, and while shopping, I picked up a massive amount of broccoli. Everyone looked at me dubiously, convinced I was crazy and that the dozen or so of us could not consume that much broccoli. Three of my friends in that group didn’t even like broccoli. In the words of one, (hi Sammy!) “Broccoli tastes like death!”

But that night, not only was every last floret eaten, but those three became broccoli converts. Sammy declared it tasted the least like death of any broccoli she’d ever eaten, and even went back for seconds.

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This, friends, is the power of magic broccoli. It’s had other incarnations – I was first introduced via Amateur Gourmet who in turn got the idea from the venerable Ina Garten. I’ve also found, on Pinterest, it referred to as crack broccoli. These recipes have all sorts of extras – Parmesan cheese, sugar, basil, pine nuts, but none of them are necessary. In fact, I think they get in the way. A scant amount of olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic, a hot oven, a lemon squeezed over – that’s all you need for broccoli nirvana.

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And, GUYS, nirvana it is. This broccoli is so very good that I forget I’m eating something healthy.

It’s simple enough to make on a weekday to accompany dinner, yet delicious enough to be a welcome, healthy side to a potluck or holiday dinner. I’ve provided a recipe here, but take the measurements more as suggestions. This is YOUR magic broccoli, do what feels right to you.

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Magic Broccoli

Adapted from the Amateur Gourmet et al.

Note: Do yourself a favor and, for the love of all that is good and holy, buy a real lemon. They’re only whereabouts of 33 cents each. If you have some bottled lemon juice in your fridge, throw it away and never ever look back. In the words of Ina Garten, “There is no substitute for fresh squeezed lemon juice.” That is especially true in this recipe.

Serves 2-4, although it can be easily multiplied.

1 lb. broccoli, washed and dried well

1 tbsp. olive oil

3/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

½ tsp. pepper

2 garlic cloves (I have been known to use minced garlic from a jar, or garlic salt if in a pinch. It’s good no matter what.)

1 lemon, cut into quarters

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop the majority of the stems off your broccoli, leaving mostly florets. Spread them across a cookie sheet; they don’t need to be spaced out, but don’t pile them on top of each other.  Drizzle the olive oil across the broccoli, and stir with a spoon to evenly distribute everything, or use your hands if you’re feeling wild. There are no rules here. Slice the garlic cloves into maybe five or six pieces, and toss with the broccoli along with the salt and pepper, making sure it is well coated.

Put it in the oven for 18-20 minutes, stirring once around the ten-minute mark. It’s done when the ends of the florets look brown and crispy. Pull it out, and squeeze your lemon over it and add salt to taste. I usually end up using about half the lemon, but adjust to your taste. You’ll probably have to fish a few lemon seeds out, one of the occupational hazards of being a real lemon lover. While you’re at it, fish out the garlic cloves too, because no one wants to accidentally bite down on a large chunk of garlic. Then enjoy your bit of vegetable heaven, at peace because you’re eating something both scrumptious and good for you.

This is my first post – feel free to leave a comment and introduce yourself! What’s your favorite way to eat broccoli? What other vegetables do you like to roast?

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