Any household that has attempted to feed very young children will be familiar with the phase in which the unsalted, boiled (or steamed), and mushable vegetable dominates. At first this abundance of fresh and untainted healthiness appears positive all round. “Look at me, I am ‘snacking’ on this leftover bit of carrot.”. An irrational fear that 0.0001mg of salt may somehow reach the baby’s delicate internal organs and cause widespread and catastrophic shriveling, can inspire preparing all of the family’s meals without salt. “Well, salt isn’t good for you after all, and I’m sure once we’ve got used to it, we won’t even miss all that salt…”.
Um, well. For me, this recipe is something of an antidote to the above phase. I am grateful to my extended family for serving it to me, and making broccoli an appealing choice again. The broccoli is salty – yessss! It retains bite and texture – double yessss! I still prepare broccoli the bland and healthy way for children, but this is a pleasingly straightforward way to make an adult version at the same time.
The recipe recommends cutting the broccoli into florets. This is the best way to achieve an even crispiness. But if you’re low on prep-time, or just feeling a bit lazy, it is possible to shove the whole broccoli onto a tray and roast it that way. When cooked it will be soft enough to easily cut into pieces to serve. Frozen florets of broccoli can be roasted in exactly the same way, and there is no need to defrost them first. I’ve found that the texture of the broccoli in the finished dish is not quite as crispy when you use frozen, but it is still delicious.
Roasted broccoli works well as a side in any protein-and-two-vegetable type meals. I also like to add it to vegetarian pasta dishes. The nuttiness and saltiness of the broccoli is a welcome addition to simple tomato sauces.
The broccoli doesn’t seem to change very quickly from being done to overdone if roasted near the middle of the oven. So, if the broccoli is ready ahead of whatever you are serving it with, either turn off the oven and just leave it there to stay hot, or let it have an extra five minutes or so. In that way that perfection is so often overrated, the overdone bits are often the best bits.
Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2-3 as a side
1 head of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons rock salt
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Cut the broccoli into florets, and peel the stalk and cut into chunks, and place in a roasting tin or on a baking tray.
- Pour over the olive oil. Stir the broccoli around so that the pieces each get at least a bit of oil on them. Sprinkle generously with the salt.
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. When ready, the little bud-like bits of the broccoli will be slightly browned in places.