Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nutty Broccoli with Lemon and Parmesan


This is by far the best broccoli I have ever had in my entire life. You will never make broccoli any other way after trying this recipe. You may not even want to eat another kind of food- just broccoli, fresh from the oven, sprinkled with lemon and parmesan cheese forever. This broccoli goes really well with baked sweet potato fries dipped in a garlic aioli. :) I stumbled upon this recipe a few months ago. It's an adaptation of Ina Garten's recipe provided by the Amateur Gourmet (1). The key to this recipe is to have dry broccoli (thank you Amateur Gourmet). Wet broccoli steams while dry broccoli toasts and trust me, you want toasty broccoli. It brings out this amazing nuttiness you never knew existed in that innocuous little vegetable. I do this by buying organic broccoli- no pesticides, no worries. Plus it's going to be baked at an extremely high temperature and that will definitely kill any germs. If you're worried, wash your broccoli and thoroughly dry it before using it in this recipe.


First assemble all of your ingredients. I've found that this saves a ridiculous amount of time since I'm not running back and forth to the cupboards and refrigerator. Well, I suppose you really only need the broccoli, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and foil covered baking sheet now. The quantities of broccoli and garlic are kind of to taste, but I'd say a medium head of broccoli and two garlic cloves will feed two people easily. You don't really want leftovers. This is a dish best served hot and fresh. ;) Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (always in Fahrenheit, because we are after all in California).


Cut your broccoli into slightly larger than bite-sized florets. Don't keep much of the stem, it can get kind of tough in the oven. Slice your garlic into large, thin pieces and place on top of the florets. Yeah, I know it's time consuming, but if you leave the garlic on the foil it'll burn in the oven and be bitter when you bite into it. Trust me- put the garlic on top of the broccoli. Fun side note I learned about broccoli- it's the flowering part of the plant! The green buds on top are unopened flowers! That's why they're called broccoli florets! If my parents had told me to eat my flowers I would have been way more apt to do so.  :)


Drizzle the broccoli lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pop that baby into the oven and let it bake for 18 minutes. If you wanted to, you could totally add red chili flakes to the broccoli before baking to give it a spicy kick. Andy liked the broccoli best that way. Personally, I think it detracts from the parmesan and lemon, but that's just me. At 17 minutes, take out the broccoli and sprinkle a small handful of pine nuts onto the tray. Put it all back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes or until the pine nuts are golden and the broccoli looks nice and toasted on the bottom.

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Remove from the oven and immediately shave parmesan cheese on top. Zest about half a lemon over the broccoli. You could easily omit this step if you don't have a zester, but I don't think the lemony aroma and taste will be nearly as pungent. Cut your lemon in half and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli. Serve immediately.

This recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation. Below is the absolute original from the Barefoot Contessa herself. I've never tried it with basil (which is silly since I have a basil plant). If you do try it like she makes it, let me know how it turns out. I think the most crucial elements to this dish are the broccoli, garlic, oil, S&P, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Everything else is just sort of a bonus. If you're curious about the sweet potato fries, I slice them into fry shapes, toss them with olive oil, S&P, and bake them for ten minutes first on the same sheet as I use for the broccoli. When I add the broccoli, I flip the fries over so the other side has a chance to brown (and the bottom doesn't burn). I'm not particularly a fan of this method because the fries tend to stick and the slivers burn and it’s generally a chore. I'd love some suggestions! I want to keep incorporating the dip though. The garlic aioli is super tasty and really easy: big dollop of mayo (1-2tbsp), one garlic clove minced (I use a teaspoon of the chopped garlic in a jar), squeeze of lemon juice (1/2tbsp). Mix together and taste for adjustment. Oh soooooo tasty.

Ina Garten's Parmesan Roasted Broccoli


· 4 to 5 pounds broccoli

· 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

· Good olive oil

· 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

· 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

· 2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated

· 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

· 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

· 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

· 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves), julienned

Cooking Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle  with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

Courtesy of "Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics"



  1. Xochi you rock! I made this recipe last weekend and it was fantastic. I did not add the pine nuts, though, which I think would have been a great choice.

  2. Stumbled on this...
    I love this recipe as well...we also will do this half broccoli and half califlower. Although, you do may want to blanche the califlower first, about 5 to 7 minutes, and dry. Depends on if you like crunchy cali or not.

  3. I tried this with cauliflower once and I just thought that the cauliflower paled in comparison to the broccoli. I liked the color contrast that the white and green made, but I wasn't excited about the flavor. I didn't try steaming them first though, but I thought that the cauliflower was cooked through adequately. I'll give it another go but steam the cauliflower first. :) Thanks for the input!