Fresh broccoli is not just a healthy; it's flavorful.By Clifford A. Wright
Everyone has a food they dislike or a least favorite food. I don't mean a food allergy, which is something else entirely. Food dislikes come about for many reasons, but the ones that interest me are the ones that I believe come about because of poorly chosen or cooked food.
Broccoli is one vegetable people quite often claim they don't like, and I believe their dislike is based on how the food was improperly cooked or served the first time they ate it.
Don't overcook it: Broccoli, and all cruciferous vegetables, must not be overcooked, otherwise chemicals in the plant break down and release sulfurous compounds, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, and interact with the chlorophyll in the plant, which causes the broccoli to turn an unappetizing brownish-gray color and to have a very unpleasant smell.
This chemical reaction is the reason people who say they don't like broccoli probably don't like it. I imagine that at a young age they ate overcooked broccoli. Don't use too much cooking liquid: Broccoli should always be cooked in small amounts of water until it is crisp-tender and retains its bright green color; it should never be cooked until limp.
That means broccoli should never be cooked more than seven minutes maximum at a boil and preferably only four to five minutes. Shock broccoli in cold water as soon as it's done cooking: It should be drained immediately and never left in hot water and it should be plunged into ice water or put under cold running water to stop its cooking unless you're serving it immediately.
President George H.W. Bush famously said he didn't like broccoli at all, and I'll bet as a youth someone cooked him sulfurous broccoli.
Keep your recipe simple for best flavor: A broccoli dish I serve will make a broccoli lover out of anyone. It's simply Griddled Broccoli.
2 pounds broccoli, stems peeled, split lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat a cast iron griddle over medium-high heat.
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, salt lightly, and cook the broccoli 4 minutes and drain immediately and rinse under cold water or plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop its cooking. Let drain.
Lightly oil the griddle and cook the broccoli, cut side down, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, turn and cook 1 minute, then remove from the heat, salt lightly, and serve.
Zester Daily contributor Clifford A. Wright won the James Beard / KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year Award and the James Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for "A Mediterranean Feast." His latest book is "Hot & Cheesy" (Wiley) about cooking with cheese.
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