It was my husband’s birthday yesterday…and as we were both home it seemed only right to cook him a birthday lunch – particularly as we were going out for dinner (to Moro, which has been on my ‘must-do’ list since sometime last year!)
We are currently on a mini-regime (‘regime’ is French for diet…not sure why, but this is one of those French words that I quite like), which in my mind really means just cutting out carbs after breakfast and laying back on the booze and sugar. So in keeping with this, I decided I would make a courgette and goat cheese frittata (see photo) with a tomato salad. But after running down the road to Ottolenghi to pick up a birthday chocolate treat, I flagged the tomato salad and instead bought some of their famous chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic. After all, it’s G’s day…and his favourite vegetable is broccoli.
What I LOVE about this dish is the smokiness that comes from chargrilling the broccoli. I’ve made it at home and while it was delicious, next time I would first go and buy the grillpan that has been on my shopping list for a long time (hint hint to anyone nearby looking for a gift for moi!), then I would make sure to get more chargrilling on the broccoli and to properly caramelise the garlic (I’m always scared of burning it thereby making it inedible!)
Adapted from one of my current favourite cookbook’s, Ottolenghi:
Chargrilled Broccoli with Chilli and Garlic (serves 2-4)
1-2 heads of broccoli (about 500g)
115ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
- Take the broccoli and separate into florets (I also take the top part of the main stalk and slice that into thick coins – tastes just as good as the florets! Just watch that you don’t get into the old/woody part of the stalk).
- Put a large pan of water on to boil. Blanch the broccoli for 2 minutes only (normal cooking time is 4 minutes, but this dish is better having the broccoli still with a bit of bite). Immediately remove and place in a bowl of water and ice cubes (to stop the cooking of the broccoli). Drain well, and then dry the broccoli completely…I normally grab a handful of paper towels or a clean tea towel and place the broccoli in there, dabbing as necessary. Ideally, you would blanch the broccoli well ahead of time so you could air dry it…but I’m normally not that organised!
- Once dry, place in a bowl and toss with 50ml of the olive oil and season well.
- Get your ridged griddle pan piping hot by placing over a high heat and leaving it there for at least 5 minutes. Char-grill the broccoli in batches – you want to make sure that there is space between the florets, otherwise they are going to steam rather than char-grill. Turn over the florets to ensure char-grilling is all over. Transfer each batch to a bowl.
- While you are grilling the broccoli, heat a small saucepan over a medium heat with the remaining olive oil, adding the sliced garlic and chilli. Cook gently until the garlic as turned a nice, golden brown. You need to watch it very closely, as there’s not much time between golden brown and burnt to a crisp. And believe me, once it’s burnt, you have to start all over again. Oh, and important to note is that they will continue to cook once off the heat (a little tip I have if you see that it’s cooking too fast is to add a dash of cold olive oil to stop the cooking process).
- Pour the oil mixture over the broccoli and toss together well. Season further if required.