After the excesses of last week, I thought a little restraint was in order.
The thing is, though, I am not very good at restraint when it takes the form of fat free, sugar free, seasoning free or otherwise flavourless ‘diet’ food. The older I get the more I find value in the idea of moderation when it comes to eating. It’s the simplest and yet also the most complex food concept to figure out and live by in the current age. And it’s made all the harder by the truly massive proliferation of multinational food companies constantly offering up new convenience foods and ingredients to help us eat healthier/easier/tastier meals (only one of those three is actually true, by the way. And even then the other one is debatable if you have the smallest amount of food education).
For me, moderation means mostly eating reasonable portions of nutritious foods in the interests of also being able to consume decent portions of treat food without it affecting my guilt levels or health too much. Without getting too deeply into it, the key words here are ‘reasonable’ and ‘nutritious’. I do not buy into wholesale exclusion of any one ingredient or food group from my diet (if you have a dietary intolerance or allergy I understand things may be different for you), I love butter, cream, salt and sugar and use all of them liberally in my cooking. I just try not to use all of them in every meal! But sometimes I go fairly austere, others are all about indulgence and I figure between the two things kind of balance themselves out.
So in the interests of moderation, today I give you a recipe (if you could even call it that) for Steam Oven Lemon Roasted Broccoli. If you haven’t joined the roasted broccoli fan club yet, see if this will convert you. Cooking the broccoli using combination steam gives the best of both worlds: frazzled, slightly charred savoury edges and soft, yielding, steamed broccoli insides. The same treatment applied to cauliflower is equally excellent.
Some will disagree, but I am very much on board with the idea of eating a huge pile of a singular vegetable as a meal. It might not be conventional, but it’s totally delicious and doesn’t take much dressing up to make things interesting. Here with Greek yoghurt, Sriracha hot sauce and an Indian roti bread, but a fried egg and my favourite seasoning sprinkle, Shichimi Togarashi, is another favourite. And some toasted nuts scattered over either of those combinations will be a winner. We had this for lunch a few days ago and my husband (aka a man who definitely does NOT rate a huge pile of vegetables as a meal) was surprisingly ok with it, though I doubt it would cut it for an evening meal in his eyes. If I’m flying solo at dinner time – admittedly pretty rare in this age of tiny people in the house – I would absolutely get excited about having a big bowl of roasted broccoli. And afterwards, I would not feel the least bit guilty for eating a brownie. Moderation. It’s grand.
Steam Oven Lemon Roasted Broccoli
One large head of broccoli will serve 2-3 people for a light meal, or about 6 as a side dish.
You can serve this just as it is, or use one of the above suggestions. I have also tossed leftover florets through cooked ramen noodles with ketjap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), sesame oil and the aforementioned Shichimi Togarashi Japanese seasoning. It made for a very satisfying vegetarian dinner.
I have been deliberately vague about quantities below, because you’ll need to adjust the seasoning ingredients according to the amount of broccoli you have.
1 large head of broccoli, broken into florets
A few tablespoons of olive oil
A very liberal amount of flaky sea salt
½ - 1 lemon (I used half a large one)
Set your oven to 230⁰C (combination steam). If your oven has variable steam settings, use about 60%.
Put the broccoli into a solid oven tray in a single layer – don’t crowd it too much or it won’t brown properly. Drizzle the oil over the top and sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine and put in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges of the florets are getting crispy and slightly blackened.
Remove from the oven and immediately squeeze as much or as little lemon juice as you like over the top (you want the juice to sizzle as it hits the oven tray, so it reduces a bit and gives a nice sharp note to the broccoli).
Serve hot or warm. It will reheat well although you’ll lose the crisp edges if you do so.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! Preheat your oven to 230⁰C and cook the broccoli for about 20 minutes to achieve a similar result. Don’t skimp on the oil or your broccoli will get dried out and leathery on the outside.