Fair Warning: Those who only like broccoli if it’s bright green and crunchy should stop reading right now…this is not your dish. But if you’re willing to entertain the idea of broccoli being comfort food, and a great accompaniment to just about any meat, fish, poultry or hardy vegetarian entrée, read on.
My mother-in-law, Misa Fornari, used to make this dish. She steamed the broccoli first before putting it into the frying pan with the garlic, but I take a shortcut and go directly from raw vegetable to the garlic sauté stage. Although this dish takes about a half hour to cook, if you put it on low heat you only have to pay attention to it every ten minutes or so, allowing the preparation of the rest of dinner while it’s cooking.
Why do I call this Comfort Broccoli? Because it is smooth, surprisingly rich for a vegetable dish, and simple but delicious.
One or two heads of broccoli
Two to four cloves of garlic
Olive Oil – 1 to 3 tablespoons
Salt and Pepper to taste
Water as needed
Pour the olive oil into a fry or sauté pan that has a lid. Turn the heat onto medium. Put the garlic through a garlic press or chop it very fine with a knife. Add to the warm oil and cook a minute or two. Don’t let the garlic brown…if you’re likely to get distracted, put the heat on low.
Chop the broccoli into florets and add to the pan. Add about a quarter cup of water and place the lid on the pan. Steam broccoli for about four or five minutes on medium-low heat.
Open the pan every five to ten minutes and chop the softening broccoli with the edge of a spatula and stir it in the pan. Add water as needed to prevent everything from getting brown, but don’t put so much water in the pan that it all becomes soup. Continue to cook with the cover on.
Once the broccoli is very well cooked it will turn an olive-green and become very soft. Cut or mash any large pieces of stem left and cook until the dish is very soft, 30 to 35 minutes.
Finish by heating with the cover off so that all excess water evaporates. Season with lots of pepper and some salt, or to taste. (Hey, I like pepper!)
You can also season this dish with hot pepper, use vegetable or chicken stock instead of water, or top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese before serving.