When I was a kid, my family frequently discussed how much I loved broccoli. “Not like George Bush!” they exclaimed, “Not like George Bush.” For people who are not my immediate relatives, George Bush (the first one) said in a press conference in 1990 that “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it, and I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”
This is maybe the most endearing comment ever. This is also probably why I began voting liberal later in life. Because broccoli is delicious.
And I did love it growing up. Though growing up, my mom just microwaved it and melted a slice of American cheese on it. We’ve already covered that, while WASPs have all kinds of George Bush jokes, they do not really have much in the way of cooking skills. Anyhow, broccoli microwaved with melted Kraft cheese – I can’t really do that anymore. I don’t know why. Because I’m elitist. Because I’m a food snob. Because New York and the roasted broccoli at City Bakery have ruined me.
I don’t even recognize the real America. It’s just amber waves of Kraft singles, I guess.
But I do recognize a good recipe for broccoli when I find one!
And, oh, I’ve found one. You don’t actually need that much for it. This is what the basic ingredients look like all laid out on top of a stove (you’re going to want to have some 2 year old Peeps candy resting atop it for decoration. That’s how I do it).
Get your oven pre-heated to 450 degrees. This takes around 15 minutes (or it does on mine. Are all happy ovens the same?) so during that time you can… shower. I don’t know what else. Work? I guess people have hobbies. Words with Friends? People seem to enjoy that.
I don’t know how Words With Friends works, really, but I will say I’m pretty terrible at Scrabble. I don’t like pondering options for too long so every one of my submissions is along the lines of “dog”. I just play “dog” over and over, but damn, I throw those tiles down with enthusiasm.
So you could do that. Or shower.
And then, you could return and lay out all the things you will need. You will need (in order):
Tinfoil (optional but extremely helpful)
Two heads of broccoli (they seem to come in bunches of three, I like to use two at a time. This means I buy two bunches at a time, so it works out perfectly. But I don’t know what your eating habits are like. You could be one of those people who say “I ate three baby carrots once and I was so full.” I’m not one of those people. If you’re one of those people maybe you should only use one bunch).
Balsamic vinegar (this is DIFFERENT than regular vinegar, as I found out).
A clove of garlic
Now, let this exciting journey commence!
First, you’re going to rip the broccoli into delicate little florets. It’s a pretty word, “floret”. It makes one expect to see a tiny squirrel running through it. You could probably name your daughter Floret if you wanted her to grow up to be weird.
I will have to remember that word the next time I am forced to play Scrabble. Here is what ripping broccoli to florets looks like:
Put all the florets in the bowl. When you’re finished you can just pretend the stem is somebody you don’t like and throw it furiously into the trash can. And spit on it if you want.
Then pour two tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over the florets. Mix them together.
Since we are on the topic, I would like to discuss that olive oil that you see there in the wine bottle shaped container. I paid $50 for that olive oil.
How did that happen? Well, I had never bought olive oil before.
I mean, I’d used it, but I had a bottle lying around that came in a gift bag ages ago, so I’d just been working my way through it. It ran out and – this is not the real America – there’s an olive oil store in Grand Central station so I figured I would just pick some up there.
The woman asked me what flavors I wanted in my olive oil which should have been a sign. The fact that there were no prices on anything should also have been a sign. I said I wanted my olive oil “sweet” (I’m worried that this is like someone being asked if they want a dry martini and replying ‘no, I’d like it wet, like a liquid should be,’ but I will probably never know). She stared at me for a second and then fetched me this one and had me sample it.
It was fine. It tasted like olive oil.
“I will take this one!” I said, “how much is it?”
And I did wonder for a bit if that was normal. My thought process went something like this:
“Well, I suppose everyone does say that using olive oil makes you live well into the Methuselah range, and they do serve it in lieu of butter at nice restaurants, which means it must be a luxury ingredient, and it is from the Mediterranean which is truly a culinary fairy-land and perhaps things from there are somehow difficult to transport what with Onassis being dead, and it does last for a long time, and yes, yes, I guess $50 is what olive oil costs. That makes sense.”
Then, after I bought it, I went to a grocery store.
That does not make sense.
Olive oil costs $8 at a grocery store. Jesus Christ.
This is going to be my only PSA of the day: DO NOT PAY $50 FOR OLIVE OIL. IT ONLY COSTS $8.
So now that you’ve tossed those florets in your normal-human-priced olive oil, which, by the way, tastes identical to crazy-expensive-olive-oil you should scatter them on a pan lined with tinfoil like so:
Once you’ve done that, toss a pinch of salt and pepper on them. You could also mix it in when they’re in the bowl, but I think this way you get to fling spices around a little bit more.Then put the broccoli in the oven and leave it there for approximately 10 minutes, or, as long as it takes you to chop garlic.
Chopping garlic feels like it takes a million years though, and is awful. It’s because garlic comes encased in this weird papery shell that you have to peel off to get to the… garlic meat? Is that a thing? You know what I mean. You have to rip off its outside bit as you would a papery coconut.
I can only assume it is this way because there is no God or intelligent design.
Here is what chopping garlic looks like:
You are going to want to chop enough of it to fill 1/4 a cup.
When you’ve done that, dump the garlic into a bowl.
Then fill 1/4 a cup full of chopped walnuts. You can buy them pre-chopped, thank God. Then toss them in the same bowl with the chopped garlic.
It can be the same bowl you used earlier to toss the broccoli and olive oil if you hate cleaning.
Then, I like to add a drizzle of olive oil over the walnuts and garlic. I have no idea if this does anything. I just fling $50 olive oil around like some glorious Greek god, though.
Like Demeter, I guess.
Here is what it looks like:
After you’ve done that, take the broccoli out of the oven (about ten minutes should have passed). Stir it around a bit so it does not stick to the tinfoil and can brown on all sides. Then take the garlic and walnuts which you have drizzled olive oil on (perhaps completely unnecessarily) and dump it on top of the broccoli on the pan. You can add another pinch of salt if you’re into that. It will look like this:
Put it back in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, depending upon how brown you like your broccoli. Then take it out. Wear a mitt! Wear an oven mitt! Pick up the tinfoil and – holding both sides – allow it to form a slide so the broccoli can just fall into a bowl. Then add one spoonful of olive oil, and two spoonfuls of Parmesan cheese. Stir it all together. It takes delicious:
Maybe if someone had made this for Bush he wouldn’t have alienated all of the broccoli farmers. I don’t know, though. Maybe yes.