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roasted broccoli florets

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For years my family has understood that when November comes around I do very little cooking,and the cooking that I do cannot in any way resemble anything that will appear on the Thanksgiving table. That means no macaroni and cheese, no rice and beans, candied sweet potatoes or even roast chicken. So during the month of November we eat a lot pasta ,pizza and chinese takeout.

My family understands there will be no macaroni and cheese at least two months before November. I want them to anticipate, savor and appreciate a meal that takes months of preparations and many hours in a steaming  kitchen with only a hot stove as my companion.It has become a sort of tradition. My family expects many quick meals and the pizza shop and chinese takeout expect to see me more than a few times in a week.

I usually try to keep the meals on the healthy side but because they aren’t usually planned just thrown together or delivered it’s not easy to do.There are nights when a cold bowl of cereal will have to do.

I try to have balanced meals at least three or more times a week, but its hard to get the kids to like any vegetable more than corn or collard greens. Collard greens happen to be on the no-cook til Thanksgiving list, so that leaves me with only corn and maybe broccoli.

Last week I made chicken cutlets with linguine and alfredo sauce. I needed a vegetable and corn didn’t quite go with the meal. I grabbed a bunch of broccoli.Its never been hard to get the kids to like broccoli aka dinosaur trees. Slathered with butter and a good glop of orange cheese its a perfect dish for any kid. I’ve been happy with the water-logged texture of steamed or boiled broccoli. I never imagined cooking it any other way. I’m embarrassed to say that unless pureed in a soup I never knew of any other way to cook it.

I never thought to roast broccoli. I roast vegetables all the time. You can’t imagine how good carrots are until you have had them drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil,sprinkled with salt and pepper and cooked in a very hot oven. Parsnips are good like this as well as cauliflower. And I wouldn’t stop there I’d roast any vegetable that could take the heat.

Why I never roasted broccoli before is a mystery to me, but I did and can tell you unless I eat it raw in a salad I will never cook it any other way. Who knew broccoli could be so sweet and taste like something that should be served in a four star restaurant?

The first time I roasted the broccoli I used only olive oil, crushed red pepper and salt and freshly ground black pepper. The broccoli were fantastic except I was surprised by the sweetness brought out in the broccoli from the caramelization during roasting. I remembered the recipe where I originally got the idea to roast the broccoli and referred back to it. That recipe uses a combination of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and even chili pepper. Right away I knew that combination would tame some of the sweetness in the broccoli. I was correct and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the hot seasoned broccoli brings it all home.

I made this twice over one weekend and each time I kept picking the broccoli florets out of the hot pan even before they made it to the dinner table. They are so good. I imagine serving this hot out of the oven in a decorative bowl when entertaining. Almost like picking popcorn out of a bowl and popping them into your mouth.

The original recipe calls for this to be roasted with shrimp. When Thanksgiving is over I will be making this as one of my quick meals because as we all know it will soon be December and time for more holidays and my family knows I don’t do much cooking in December either.

 recipe: roasted broccoli florets. Adapted from Melissa Clark

 2 pounds broccoli,cut into bite-sized florets

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/ 2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 easpoon freshly grounb black pepper

1/8 teaspoon hot chili powder

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl mix the broccoli well with the olive oil, coriander,cumin,chili powder and salt and pepper.

Spread the broccoli in a single layer on a cookie sheet large enough to hold it all. Roast for 10 minutes. With a long handled spoon mix the broccoli around in the pan and roast for an addiltional 10 minutes.

Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the broccoli while still hot. Serve immediatly.

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