Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Broccoli Redemption & Quinoa's Premier

Quinoa, Roasted Broccoli & Baked Flounder
Yes, I am STILL talking about Broccoli! :)

After that whole personal veggie ziti debacle, I decided it was time to figure out a new way to cook this frozen broccoli, because I sure as heck wasn't going to waste it, but I also wasn't going to eat it the way I had been either.

So I got to thinking and remembered that I had heard several times over the past few weeks about roasted vegetables over at TheNewHealthy. But wait, what exactly does "roasting" mean? I know roasted meat is made in the oven, but what's the difference between roasting and baking?

According to the wonderful-for-familiarization-purposes website, Wikipedia, "roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting usually causes caramelization or Maillard browning of the surface of the food, which is considered a flavor enhancement," (Wikipedia, "Roasting"). OK, now I get it... except how is that different from baking? The jury is still out on the exact answer to that one, but if you're curious it mostly has to do with air circulation, you can read more here.

So now I wanted a specific recipe, so I googled "roasted broccoli" and one of the first search results was a link to a recipe posted by The Amateur Gourmet. The original recipe, as he notes, is Ina Gartin, most commonly known as The Barefoot Contessa, you can find her recipe here. The Barefoot Contessa calls is "Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli" and The Amateur Gourmet calls it "The Best Broccoli of Your Life," and I'll have to agree with the latter.

Here is what the recipe generally calls for and what I wound up using:
  • Broccoli (I used frozen - florets & stems)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt (I used sea salt)
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon zest (No lemons in the house)
  • Freshly squeeze lemon juice (I used lime juice from one of those plastic limes)
  • Toasted pine nuts (skipped it)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (I used grated)
  • Julienned fresh basil (I used dried)
So after reading Amateur Gourmet's account of just how delicious this broccoli was, and knowing I had most of the ingredients in the house, I decided to try it out! I thought about what else I had in the house and remembered that I had a box of quinoa that I had really been wanting to try. Plus I have frozen flounder fillets; a balanced meal, so I was ready to go!

The process:

- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Drying over a paper towel.
- Place frozen broccoli in a bowl, almost covered with water, and microwave for a few minutes to steam.

- Once slightly cooled, scoop broccoli out of the water with your hands, placing the broccoli in a paper towel-lined strainer. (It's important that the broccoli is completely dry before roasting)

- Cover a baking sheet, or any baking dish for that matter, with aluminum foil, and transfer over the broccoli.

Just before roasting.
- Drizzle broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

- Peel and slice desired number of garlic cloves (I used 1 since it was just me) and add to the baking sheet.

- Roast for 20-25 minutes (or until there are some brown spots on most of the pieces of broccoli)

- Now you add the lemon juice and lemon zest (or lime juice for me), a little more olive oil, basil, and the parmesan. (I did this step in a small bowl so that it was easier to toss).
See the caramelization?! Mmm :)

I thought that not having the lemon would have ruined it, but it didn't; although next time I will use a real lemon for the zest and juice just to get the full effect. I was also skeptical of the "brown" they both said to look for, but it didn't taste burnt or charred at all; it's just that caramelization. It truly does enhance the flavor.

This broccoli was phenomenal! I can not believe that I can now make frozen broccoli at home and feel confident serving it to guests. It was tender, yet firm and not at all rubbery or watery like when I added it to the ziti. (I bet if I roasted the veggies, that ziti would be a whole lot better!)

So the flounder was nothing special, just a little olive oil, rosemary and garlic powder; honestly just not worth writing about. But the quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) on the other hand, was a hit!

Quinoa is a grain that can act like rice or pasta, and is popular in gluten-free recipes. It has a light texture similar to couscous but with a nuttier taste. I prepared it just the way the box said to (it will vary based on brands) and it was like cooking rice or pasta.

A little taste-testing :)
Since I've never had it before I decided to put a little bit in to three small condiment bowls. In one I added tomato sauce, another olive oil and the third some Olivo Light "butter spread" to see how it tasted each way. The tomato sauce was my favorite and I plan to eat it with mom's homemade meatballs that I have in the freezer either this week or next.

Cooked Quinoa
I decided to throw it in the bowl where I tossed the broccoli and added a little bit more of the olive oil, parmesan, black pepper and sea salt, mixed it up, and voila! It was great. I will say though, that I wound up mixing it with the broccoli while eating it, and am looking forward to trying recipes where other ingredients are mixed in with it.

I URGE you to try this roasted broccoli recipe! And I'll be posting in the near future about my experiences with different quinoa recipes for you to try!

What's your favorite way to eat qunioa? What's your favorite roasted vegetable recipe?

Another favorite tool of the trade that makes certain tedious tasks easier: My silicon bristle brush. Makes spreading certain things SO much easier - like olive oil on flounder... or garlic bread!


  1. Oo, I think I'll make at least the qunioa part of this tonight and the rest soon. I also need a silicon bristle brush- awesome tool & so much easier to clean than the hairy ones.

  2. All these delicious quinoa dishes on blogs everywhere! I have yet to try it! This looks amaaaaazing!

  3. I'm soo glad you liked the broccoli roasted! Yay for trying again!

    Toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, and basil are great additions too. Now I'm going to have to spruce up my roasted veggies--thanks for the idea girl. :)