Do you remember how, years ago, before roasting broccoli in the oven became so fashionable, we threw florets into a hot pan with oil and butter? We let the broccoli cook for about 4 mins for a perfectly cooked and highly flavoursome dish. The broccoli half steams in its own juices and half roasts with the oil and butter. The result is soft, almost creamy broccoli with charred, toasty spots. Why did we ever stop using this method?
Pan Roasted Broccoli
Wash a head or two of broccoli and cut into florets that are approximately the same size. Peel the stalk of the broccoli and chop into rings about 0.5 – 1 cm wide.
Take a heavy-based pan – a Dutch oven is great for this – one with a lid. Add a couple of Tblspns of olive oil and heat over high heat until the oil is very hot or smoking. Take care, don’t set the house on fire.
Add the broccoli to the pan – take care again, you don’t want to splash oil over yourself, but you do want to add the broccoli quickly. Cover quickly with the lid. Cook for 2 mins without lifting the lid – no peeking.
Now take the lid off and season the broccoli with sea salt and black pepper and shake the broccoli around a bit (I put the lid back on and give the pan a quick but careful shake). Keeping covered, cook for another 2 – 3 mins.
Check the broccoli to see if it is done to your liking. It should be tender, still quite green with some charred spots. If it needs further cooking, put the lid back on, shake the pan again and cook for another 2 mins.
This swift, high-heat method concentrates the flavour of the broccoli, but still cooks it through so it is yielding, almost creamy. The seared spots are toasty and delicious.
How to use the Pan Roasted Broccoli
There are hundreds of ways to use this broccoli. Here are a couple of my favourites.
- Place the cooked broccoli onto a serving platter and add a squeeze of lemon.
- Or, better still, sprinkle some chopped preserved lemon over the top. This is a divine dish that you won’t be able to stop eating.
- Or add some chilli and garlic to the pan at the half way mark, with the salt and pepper.
- An Indian lime pickle, used judiciously with the broccoli, also works well.
- OR make a pasta dish. This broccoli is great with vermicelli pasta, a little garlic and parmesan.