Sunday, January 29, 2012

Five minute broccoli

Broccoli is one vegetable that I often like better when I buy it frozen than when I buy it fresh. Maybe it's the local growing conditions, or maybe it's the variety of broccoli, but the frozen stuff is very, very acceptable. And let's face it, a bag of frozen broccoli in the freezer is great to have on hand.

Quite often, I prepare vegetables as simply as possible - steam, microwave, boil - and then maybe a pinch of salt and some butter or oil. I like vegetables - I don't need them to taste like something else.

On the other hand, when the main dish is grilled meat or poached fish, there's nothing wrong with adding a little extra "zing" to the vegetables. Sometimes that means a squeeze of lemon juice. This time I added more.

This side dish is ready in no time at all, particularly of you buy the small broccoli florets. If you buy the giant florets with chunks of stems, adjust your cooking time appropriately. It's not so much that you need to cook the broccoli a lot. But rather, if we're starting from a frozen vegetable, you want to make sure it's warmed all the way through.

This is the sort of recipe where you absolutely don't need to stress about measuring anything exactly - eyeball it, and you'll be fine.

And another tip - although I like to keep fresh garlic on hand, there are plenty of times when I reach for a clove, and I have none left. You can buy chopped garlic in a tube - just like you an buy tomato paste - and it lasts a long, long time in the refrigerator. I prefer fresh, but the emergency tube is better than running out of garlic - or running out to the store at the last minute.

Five-Minute Broccoli

1 bag frozen broccoli florets (about 1 pound)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Oil, for cooking - about a tablespoon

Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Add the oil and when it begins to shimmer, add the pepper flakes, stir them around for a second or two, then add the broccoli.

Stir the broccoli around for a few seconds, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring as needed to keep things from burning, until the broccoli is heated through and has a few brown spots. Add a splash of the sherry stir it around to coat the broccoli, and continue cooking until all the liquid is gone.

Serve hot.