Tag Archives: Broccoli

Keep Warm and Cook Something Delicious

DSC_0048Wherever you are, I’m sure you’re cold. If you’re in Minnesota, God bless you. Roy spent his elementary school years in Duluth and he has vivid memories of walking to school through snow banks much taller than he was. Martha’s Vineyard is downright tropical compared to that.

DSC_0011DSC_0027Thought you might like to see our thermometers here. It was 0° when Roy first went out, but by the time Farmer and I got our gear on, it was  8° on the farm stand (right) and 24° in the hoop house (left). The hoop house was warming up pretty rapidly in the sun, too. Inside, the greens are covered by both a layer of fabric row cover and a layer of plastic, so they should be okay. Lettuce actually withstands very cold temps (due to a sort of anti-freeze effect) as long as it doesn’t get direct frost or cold wind. We have kale, broccoli, and arugula under cover, too. I’m hopeful.

In the garden, the parsley seems to miraculously radiate a green glow, despite everything.



Heading back Inside, I rifled through the freezer and pulled out some of our own tomatoes—roasted and frozen in September—and our own pesto, made with the last of the basil in October, I think. Making baked pasta tonight, a memory of warmth on a cold night. A few days ago I made split pea soup (a Roy favorite) and pulled out my old Joy of Cooking to see the notes I made years ago on how I like to make this classic. I noticed (maybe for the first time), that Irma Rombauer suggests to serve the soup with “croutons, or sour black bread and Jellied Pig’s Feet (p. 511).” How interesting!


I also made creamy polenta (for myself, not a Roy favorite) last week, poured it into a baking dish, and cut pieces out several nights running. I pan-fried them and served them with sautéed broccoli greens and kale from the hoop house. By the way, last year when I blogged about broccoli greens, I had no idea they’d be making their way into grocery stores this year. The current edition of Fine Cooking magazine has an article about how Foxy Organics is now growing and selling broccoli leaves (under the name Broccoleaf) to grocery stores. (I wrote about this and other new veggies on The Huffington Post yesterday). You can check out Fine’s Cooking’s info on broccoli leaves here and a great recipe for Broccoli Leaf Tortellini Soup here. Oh, and I almost forgot—that new issue of Fine Cooking also has a feature by yours truly on roasted winter vegetable salads. To get the full effect of the gorgeous photos and layout (and flexibility of the master recipe), you’ll want to pick up the magazine. But many of the recipes are online, too. Click here for the Roasted Winter Vegetable and Pear Salad with Cheddar and Almonds recipe. (Photo of salad below is by Scott Phillips, courtesy of FineCooking.com.)


Undoubtedly, you are concocting something delicious in your own kitchen to keep warm. Regardless, I hope you’re staying inside, unlike our chickens and ducks, who have the option of huddling in their coops, but prefer to roam around and eat bits of snow on a day like this—crazy!


Even crazier is that I am on egg-collecting duty today (I just remembered—yikes!) and now I have to layer-up (two of everything) and go down to the (7) coops and collect (hundreds of) eggs. Can’t wait.



Super-Quick “Confetti” Greens + (Surprise!) Broccoli Leaves

DSC_4266Even if I do not, the hoop house loves this weather. Or I should say the hoop house greens do. They like the cold nights and the many daylight hours of fuzzy sunlight. “Fuzzy” means grey and overcast to me, so I am not so happy about it, especially because it is freakin’ windy here, and the daytime temps haven’t exactly been soaring, so working outside isn’t really pleasant.


But the greens inside the hoop house don’t have to deal with the wind, and they prefer these overcast days to the super sunny ones when the house gets pot-boiling hot.

DSC_4177It did get hot a few days while I was away; I could tell because some of the greens bolted and flowered. I lopped off most of the flowers (including a few spent mini-broccoli heads) so that the greens could get their energy back and keep growing. In the process, I discovered that the flowers are delicious (especially the kale flowers), which I kept nibbling.

I’m not really sure, since I’ve never overwintered this many different kinds of greens in a hoop house, but I think the kale and collards may be flowering because the plants are aging and/or because of the day length, in addition to the heat.

But mostly, it has been cool and perfect for the greens, so the leaves are unbelievably tasty—nutty and sweet, not at all bitter. The broccoli leaves are my favorite—I can’t imagine why they aren’t sold in grocery stores or at farmers’ markets (maybe they are somewhere!). Harvested young and tender, they need absolutely no prep before tossing in the stir-fry pan.


None of this I would have known if I hadn’t finally taken advantage of the hoop house to plant broccoli and collards, which I normally avoid due to the cabbage pests out in the garden.

But here’s the good news—you don’t have to have a garden or a hoop house to do what I’ve been doing with the greens lately: Cooking the quickest side dish in the history of Vegetables-Meet-Fire. The secret is simply rolling your leaves up and slicing them across very thinly with a sharp knife. The slicing takes care of any tough fibers and the resulting “ribbons” cook in a heartbeat. I’ve often done this with mature collards in the past, but you can do it with any leafy veg.


To get started, you can follow the basic recipe that I wrote for Fast, Fresh & Green (and updated slightly), below. I often just go with garlic and red pepper flakes, so the vinegar/honey/parm combo is optional here. But you could try finishing with sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds or with lemon and minced capers or olives—whatever you like.

The greens also make a nice bed for fish (or lamb—it is Easter I realize!), a good addition to pasta dishes or frittatas, a nice pizza or tart topping, and an interesting fold-in to mashed potatoes or slow-sauteed root veggies like carrots and turnips.

Speaking of Easter, if you need asparagus side dish ideas, click here for a my favorite braised asparagus recipe, here for a nice saute, and here for roasting and grilling directions. Oh, and here for a nice asparagus bread pudding brunch recipe and here for asparagus bisque!

DSC_4277Super-Quick Sautéed Greens,“Confetti”- Style

I love using my large nonstick stir-fry pan for this and for so many things, but a large nonstick skillet works fine. Just crank up the heat so that the greens cook very quickly.


½ teaspoon sherry vinegar (optional)

½ teaspoon honey (optional)

½ large bunch collard greens, broccoli leaves or kale

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable, peanut, grapeseed, or olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Big pinch crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

Shaved or coarsely grated Parmigiano-Regianno (optional)


Combine the sherry vinegar and honey in a small bowl (if using).

Remove the leaves from their stems by holding the stem with one hand and pulling the leaves away from it with the other. Rip the leaves completely in half lengthwise. You should yield about 4 ounces greens. Rinse the leaves and dry them well. Stack them up on top of each other, roll them up tightly cigar-style, and, using a very sharp knife, slice them across into very thin ribbons (about 1/8-inch wide).

In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet or nonstick stir-fry pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is softened and fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the sliced greens and the salt, and juke the heat up a bit so that the pan stays pretty hot. Cook, stirring to incorporate everything in the pan, until the greens turn bright green (at first) and then a darker green and are somewhat wilted, about 1 minute (do not cook much longer or they will begin to toughen). Remove the pan from the heat and taste. Stir in the vinegar/honey mixture if using, and serve right away, garnished with the Parmigiano if you like.

Serves 2


Cranking it Out of the Kitchen On a Snow Day

Nothing like pushing your culinary limits. It’s easy for me to get lazy with cooking—doing the same things I’ve always done, especially if I can do them blindfolded when I’m in a tired or harried state. But God and circumstances and magazine editors are constantly presenting me with nifty challenges that keep me from getting too complacent. That’s a good thing. Lately I’ve been pushing on a couple fronts.

Yesterday it snowed here. A flurry or two wouldn’t be such a crazy thing in November, but the fact that two inches stuck to the ground, and was still hanging around here this morning, is a little strange. I took some photos of snowy nasturtiums to post on my Facebook page; they seemed so pretty in an incongruous kind of way.

I like snow days, because they force me to stay inside and do my house-y, kitchen-y (and okay, computer-y) stuff. In the case of yesterday, it was a very good thing, as I was right on top of my deadline to develop six recipes for Vegetarian Times. I mentioned this assignment a few weeks ago, but I bring it up again, because the topic definitely fell squarely into the culinary challenge (culinarily challenging?) department. My charge was to develop recipes featuring (or at least including) the often discarded parts of veggies, including carrot tops, broccoli leaves, radish greens, celery leaves, chard stems, and beet greens. As it happens, I’ve developed recipes with chard stems and beet greens in the past, but around here, most of the rest of these goodies go straight to the chickens. When a farmstand customer offers to remove her carrot tops and leave them for the hens, I am only too happy. The more green stuff the chickens eat, the better their eggs.

But now that I’ve made carrot top pesto (really delicious), stir-fried broccoli leaves (the new kale?), and lemon-ginger-ized radish greens, I’m all excited. Those broccoli leaves, I’m telling you, are delicious. I did have a brief setback, though, which got me thinking about food waste: Many of these veggies are not available in the grocery store in their “natural” state. In other words, the greens are removed. (On the Island, the extras are likely composted or donated to pig farmers, but I hate to think about how much of this stuff goes into landfill in some circumstances, just because the leaves are wilted.) Broccoli is especially denuded these days. You can hardly get it with the stalk still attached (and the stalk is delicious, too), much less with anything more than a few leaves on it. (Farm stands, farmers’ markets, and any natural grocery offering local produce will be a different story.) And if you’ve ever seen broccoli growing in a field, you know that it’s kind of all about the leaves.

Yesterday I went down to Morning Glory Farm and they ever so kindly sent someone out from the farm store to the (snowy) field across the street to cut two large broccoli heads—with stalk and lots ‘o leaves—for me to play with. They were so beautiful that I didn’t want to cut them up. In the end I only used a small amount of the leaves in my recipe (which I then tried to photograph in the snow—here’s an outtake!!), but I saved a whole bag of leaves from just one head to put in soups and stir-fries over the next week.

However, I’m not sure we’ll be having a soup or a stir-fry any time soon. In Part Two of my current culinary challenge, I am trying to make my way through at least one piece of pork from the freezer every week. (For those who don’t know, we raised two pigs this summer, which we unfortunately named. So now when we have pork chops for dinner, the question always comes up: Is this a Dozer chop or a Wilbur chop? Yikes.)

This week I’ve gone overboard. I made meatloaf with ground pork first, then finally got a huge pork butt (that’s actually shoulder meat) defrosted enough to cut it into pieces and concoct a chili-ish stew in the slow-cooker. Wouldn’t you know it, though, I’m not too crazy about how it came out—my spice mix wasn’t quite right. But we are eating it anyway—last night in burritos, and tonight in, who knows?

But the really good news is that I had enough sense to reserve some of the pork butt meat and pork fat to make breakfast sausage—and it turned out absolutely delicious. This is probably our best effort so far with the pork. Not that making our first-ever homemade bacon from the belly wasn’t very cool and fun (did that a few weeks ago), but it came out a bit salty, so there’s room for improvement there. But today I used Bruce Aidell’s Brown Sugar and Sage Breakfast Pattie recipe from his Complete Book of Pork, and it was perfect. I made the mistake earlier in the fall of trying to make sausage from already ground pork, but the grind and the ratio of fat to meat is all wrong for sausage. You have to start with some pork meat (preferably butt) and some (actually a little more than some) pork fat. You don’t need a grinder though; I chilled the meat and fat and chopped in the food processor as instructed.

Roy was pretty excited about the sausage, too. In fact, we’re both kind of surprised and delighted by how much of our own food we’re eating. Roy said to me last night that next year is canning and preserving year. Okey dokey, Roy. Now, all we need is the cow for milk, and we’ll never have to go to the grocery store again. (The cow and a whole lot more time.)

In the meantime, I’m reading more and more about the benefits of fermented food, so I may have to try making kimchi. But I think next up is something I can wrap my head around a little more easily—roasted pumpkin pie. The only problem is that the only ripe Sugar Pie pumpkins we have left are the ones from Libby’s garden. I’ll have to ask her if she’ll loan me one. Should be okay—Libby likes a good experiment in the kitchen!



I Like Mine Extra-Crispy—Roasted Broccoli, That Is

Wouldn’t you know it, I went skipping off to the grocery store yesterday, smugly thinking I’d pick up some fiddlehead ferns and/or baby artichokes and blog about cooking one or both of them this week.  The grocery store had other plans. In other words, it had neither. I swear I saw fiddleheads somewhere recently, even though I know the wild ones aren’t up yet around here. But I must have been imagining things (not surprising). I’m sure I didn’t imagine the baby artichokes; they’re at the other grocery store—the one I didn’t plan to go to yesterday.  Oh well, soon enough for both.

Instead I bought broccoli. I know, broccoli. But it was, truthfully, the best looking thing at the store. And I think maybe I had a tiny cruciferous craving, as suddenly I had to have several of the perky purple-green crowns to roast for our dinner. (And a couple to put in a vase near the daffodils–weird but true.) I realized, too, that I needed something I could throw together pretty quickly, with a minimum of hands-on time, as I was probably going to be unloading the rest of my groceries all night! (I’m working on three recipes for Fine Cooking magazine today.)

If you’re a roasted broccoli convert already, you know what I’m talking about in terms of bang for your buck. With very little effort, you get a vegetable so tasty and crispy-toasty that even the pickiest veggie-disdainers will eat it straight off the sheet pan. That’s why I usually make a dipping sauce for the florets—to encourage kids and adults alike to eat roasted broccoli just like any other finger food. Last night I made a quick soy-lime-honey-ginger sauce, but you’ll find plenty more quick sauce and herb butter recipes for roasted veg in Fast, Fresh & Green, too. (Sorry to be a tease about the book–it really will be released from the warehouse in only three weeks!)

Whether or not you’re a seasoned broccoli-roaster, you can follow some tips for the best results. First, I use a very hot oven (475°) and spread the florets out in one loose layer on a large sheet pan. The combination of high heat and good air circulation guarantees that the broccoli will roast, not steam. If you have a convection function on your oven, turn it on for roasting broccoli. When I cut up broccoli for roasting, I try to cut through whole florets to create flat sides. The flat sides have more surface area and will brown more against the pan. Lastly, I give the broccoli pieces a pretty generous coating of olive oil—again to draw the heat into the florets.

Roasted Broccoli with Soy-Lime-Honey-Ginger Dipping Sauce

You can easily double this recipe if you like, and the one-pound of florets will fit on a large (18×13) sheet pan. Any more than that should go on two sheet pans. I like to use parchment paper to line my sheet pans when roasting vegetables, but it’s not necessary here, as the broccoli will not stick to the pan.


½ pound broccoli florets (from about 2 small crowns), each about 2 inches long, with one flat side

1 ½ to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chopped scallions

1 (generous) tablespoon chopped fresh ginger


Heat the oven to 475°. In a large mixing bowl, toss the broccoli florets with enough olive oil to generously coat them. Add the kosher salt, toss, and spread the florets in one layer, cut sides down, on a heavy, rimmed sheet pan. (A small-to-medium sized pan is fine for this amount of florets.) Roast until the florets are browned and crispy at their outer edges, and the cut sides are lightly browned on the bottom, about 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to serving dishes or a platter if you like.

Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, lime juice, honey, scallions and ginger and mix well. Transfer to one or more dipping bowls and serve with the broccoli.

Serves 2 to 3