This is a wonderfully simple and delicious broccoli sauce. It makes a fantastic topping for a light summer pasta dish, adds lovely herbal tones as an accompaniment to eggs, or a flavorful appetizer when served over freshly grilled bread. Many recipes call for the use of the broccoli florets. However, one of the great things about this recipe is that it uses the often overlooked and discarded leaves and stems. In fact, the entire recipe can be made from leaves and stems if you want to reserve the florets for another dish or occasion. This recipe, in addition to being a great example of our sustainable and zero waste kitchen approach in Culinary Medicine, also makes use of one of our favorite summer techniques to extend the Farmers’ Market bounty; big pot blanching.
- 1.5 kg (approximately 3 ¼ pounds) of fresh broccoli
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1-2 dried chilis
- 4-6 anchovy fillets (optional)
- 120 mL (approximately ½ cup) of good quality olive oil
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
The first task is to clean the broccoli by removing the tough ends and peeling away any thick ,fibrous parts of the stem. Make sure to reserve any leaves along with the tender, peeled stems as well. Separate the florets and leaves from the thicker stems as they will need less time to cook.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water up to a rapid boil. Add the stems and blanch until they are tender; easily pierced with a paring knife. This should take about 8 minutes. Remove the stems. Add the florets and repeat the process. This should take slightly less time. If there are any reserved leaves, you can repeat the process last with these, as these will take the least amount of time to become bright green and very tender, about 30 seconds to a minute. If you are preparing the broccoli later, you can arrest the cooking process at this stage by placing the stems, florets, and leaves into an ice bath. If you’re making the sauce later, also reserve some of the water.
To prepare the sauce, heat the olive oil over a low flame. Add the sliced garlic and chilis and allow them to infuse their flavors into the warm oil; about 10 to 15 minutes. If you’re using the anchovies, add these at this time as well and allow them to break up into the oil. Remove the garlic and chilis. Increase the heat to medium low. Add the broccoli along with a little of the cooking water and allow to cook for several minutes. Season with salt and stir the broccoli in the pan. It should start to break up. Alternatively, at this point if you wish you can also use an immersion blender to break up the broccoli. Just remember to keep the sauce somewhat thick and chunky as opposed to a fine purée. Add additional olive oil as needed and season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.