Thursday, March 13, 2008

CSA week 15 - roasted broccoli, spring onion and grape tomato

This is a slight take off from the Cook's Illustrated (a.k.a. America's Test Kitchen) recipe for roast broccoli. The main differences being me not bothering with most of their refinements. That's not unusual for me as they often overcomplicate recipes, but usually each step or ingredient I leave out is a small but noticeable deviation from an ideal result.

This time, though, the difference was in the broccoli. They don't mention it explicitly, but it's safe to assume that their recipe starts with supermarket broccoli. The CSA broccoli we have is more delicate; I think it's a hybrid with the trippy fractal Romanesco variety. You can see a little bit of the spirals and the distinctive light green coloration in the heads. The delicacy meant that I didn't need to peel the stems (such as we were given) and I couldn't cut the florets into tidy halves to lie flat the way the recipe prescribes.

The key bits of the Cook's Illustrated recipe I kept were tossing the vegetables in olive oil with a dash of salt and sugar (to encourage browning) and cooking them at 500 degrees F for ten minutes or so. I was quite worried the onions would scorch far before that but they held up well. On the other hand, I was hoping the grape tomatoes would burst and start creating a sauce, but they just shriveled up.

My initial plan was to roast the broccoli, onion, tomato and maybe some pepper and mushrooms to go into a macaroni and cheese. (Not the instant sort. I have a very nice recipe for from scratch. Well, maybe the instant sort. Kraft dinner isn't anything like real macaroni and cheese but it has charms of its own.) But I decided that for the first time I made this, if it turned out, I wanted to really taste it and not drown it in a heavy cheese sauce.

Instead I figured I could add a bit of butter and use it as a pasta sauce on its own. My choices were plain or egg pasta (in various shapes), or one of the three varieties of ravioli I currently have in the freezer: black olive artichoke, garlic Gorgonzola, and three mushroom. Which would you pick? After some deliberation I went with the garlic Gorgonzola ravioli. Gorgonzola goes with broccoli; It's true. But I've got to say I liked the roasted vegetables best all on their own without any pasta or cheese getting in the way. In retrospect, they'd work better as a topping for steak than for pasta. The same goes for Gorgonzola now that I think about it. Now if only I actually liked steak.

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