Broccoli doesn’t sound like a very delicious dinner, but once you try this genius high-heat, scorching method to cook the stuff, you’ll never doubt broccoli again. I’m so delighted to share today’s ultra-simple, fast and delicious recipe from Luisa Weiss, author of the beautiful food memoir, My Berlin Kitchen, and blogger at The Wednesday Chef.
If you love food blogs, you probably know Luisa’s gorgeous website, which documents her life in Berlin through her heartfelt stories, recipes, and food photos. Luisa — who was born to an American father and Italian mother and grew up in Germany — knows a thing or two about the intersection of food and cultural identity. Her book My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story with Recipes (which came out in paperback last week!) tells the story of a Berlin childhood filled with sugar doughnuts and constant homesickness, her summers in Italy, post-college life in New York — and how she came back to Berlin to create a home with her husband, Max, and small son, Hugo. Needless to say, I loved it.
Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Luisa and share some of her weeknight cooking tips, and a recipe for the world’s best broccoli (cross my heart).
On cooking for one:
I’m usually on my own weeknights, so a pretty regular dinner is a big old salad (just lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers with lots of vinegar and olive oil) and a cheese sandwich. If I’m feeling cozy (or not too burnt out from the day with my son), I might make myself a plate of pasta instead. But lately, not turning on the stove has been my modus operandi.
On her favorite no-cook meals:
Salads, cheese sandwiches, peanut butter on rice cakes, yogurt with homemade jam stirred in. Do boiled eggs count? I feel like those hardly count as cooked items, so I’ll add those to the list, too.
Her fridge staples are meal building blocks:
I always have eggs, anchovies, parsley and sambal oelek in the fridge. Each of those is the building block for a really quick meal, like a frittata, a plate of pasta, a grain salad or stir-fried cabbage. And I always have a block of nice cheese on hand, too, in case I just can’t deal (see above).
On cooking in advance:
I’ll boil a batch of wheat berries at midday, then store them for a few meals. I’ll cook a few batches of roasted vegetables that I can then repurpose. But mostly, I’ve learned to juggle cooking on several hot burners at once. Over time, I’ve learned by doing how to bang out a pretty respectable meal, soup to nuts, in less than an hour.
Heston Blumenthal’s broccoli
Adapted by Luisa Weiss
*Note from Ann: The first time I made this broccoli, I tossed it with pasta. The second time, I ate it plain — as a snack — as addictive as potato chips. Warning: adding the damp broccoli to the hot oil causes a lot of spattering, so be brave, do it in a quick motion and get the lid on your pan before you make too much of a mess.
“I love this quick, yet still sophisticated broccoli recipe,” says Luisa. “This swift, high-heat method concentrates the flavor of the broccoli, but still cooks the broccoli through so it’s yielding and almost creamy. The seared spots are toasty and delicious.”
Here’s what you do:
“Wash a head broccoli lop off all the florets so that they’re approximately the same size,” says Luisa. “Peel the stalk of the broccoli, if you feel like it, (don’t if you don’t) and slice it into thinnish coins (1/4-inch thick? 1/2-inch is fine, too). Take a heavy-bottomed pan and pour a couple of spoons of olive oil in it. Set it over high heat until the oil starts to smoke and then dump the broccoli into the smoking pan all at once and cover it quickly with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes with no peeking. Take the lid off, season the broccoli with salt and pepper, put on oven mitts and grab the handles of the pot to shake the broccoli around a little bit, add a lump of butter (I used about a tablespoon) and then put the pot back over the flame, covered, for 2 more minutes. At this point, you can test the broccoli and see if it’s cooked enough for your liking. If it’s not, put the top back on and cook for a final 2 minutes. It should be scorched in spots and still quite green in others.”
Serve and devour.
(All non-broccoli photos from Luisa Weiss.)