"Yes, but what can we do with it? How are we supposed to eat it?" My husband had questions about the green stuff in the fridge. It was a lovely shade of green, and it was so delicious I had to stop myself from grabbing a spoon and demolishing it in one sitting. For him, and probably for most of you, broccoli puree is something foreign to be curious about, and to, hopefully, try for yourself.
The inspiration to create broccoli puree came of out of a moment of irrational exuberance. Organic broccoli was on sale for 99 cents per pound at Whole Foods, and so without even thinking about how I would prepare it, I loaded up! Turns out one and a half pounds of broccoli is a lot of broccoli for just two people to consume. I knew if we fell back on our regularly scheduled roasted broccoli recipe, we would be having leftovers for weeks. Plus, roasted broccoli does not make ideal leftovers. It's best right out of the oven, crisp, freshly salted, reminiscent of french fries. Simply put, it was not an option.
I happen to love anything you can eat with a spoon right out of the container, everything from hummus to ice cream. I also quite enjoy mashed potatoes, even if I don't make them more than once or twice annually. With this in mind, I decided that I would apply mashed potato technique to a lot of broccoli and see what happens.
What happens is utter deliciousness. What happens is that you have a healthy side dish that can dress up a plate of grilled chicken or fish, would be lovely tossed with pasta and Parmesan, and freezes quite well. It's versatile and satisfying. You can make it ahead of time. You can make it in large batches and save some for later (cook once, eat twice or more). You can make it vegan or not as you choose.
As this recipe is essence of broccoli, buy the best broccoli you can which is somewhat in season right now depending on where you live. This is a recipe that won't suffer if you play with it, say substituting butter for the extra virgin olive oil or doubling the amount you make. While it takes a bit of time, and some equipment, it is so very rewarding.
Makes 4-5 cups, approximately
2-3 large broccoli crowns with gorgeous green color (~ 1 1/4 pounds or 600 grams), cut into florets and cut the stems into 1/4 inch pieces.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter (plus more if needed)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large stock pot or dutch oven (size: at least 5 quarts or more), fill it two-thirds full with water and a huge pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, add florets and cook for 5-7 minutes until the broccoli is tender and still a bright green color. Drain. Run under cold water quickly to stop the cooking process.
Set up your food processor with the blade attachment. You will likely have to do this in two batches. Add half the broccoli, 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter, 1/4 cup chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Process for another 10 seconds. Taste. Does it seem dry? Add a little more broth. Does it need salt? If yes, add more. Is the mouthfeel silky and pleasurable? If not, add a little more fat - either the olive oil or butter or, if you are feeling delightfully naughty, half-and-half. Process for another 20 seconds. Scrape back into the pan you used to boil the broccoli (no need to get two pans dirty!). Repeat, until all the broccoli has been pureed and is back in the pan.
Gently reheat the broccoli over medium low heat until it is warm and not watery. If you find it is sticking to the pan, add a bit of olive oil. Add the nutmeg. Taste. If needed, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm as a side dish.
Storage: Will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for three days or in the freezer for two months. Reheat gently after storage. You may need to add a little more olive oil and/or broth during the reheating process.
Make it vegan: Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and olive oil in place of butter.
Brian's preference: My husband likes to drown it in a blizzard of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Nutritional awesomeness: Broccoli is an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Vitamin C, as you likely know, supports your immune system. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, and it also helps transport calcium in the body.