When I lived in New York, I had a flatmate who told me a story about how shocked she was when, during a trip to Italy, she saw her host mother cooking the life out of broccoli. “I had never seen anything like it before!” she said. “She cooked it until almost mushy, with tons of garlic. It was delicious!”
And it is. Strange as it may sound, and although it is surely not the healthiest way to cook broccoli, do give this broccoli Strascinati a try. You will be amazed at how even broccoli can become what tastes like an indulgent, olive oil–laden, garlicky treat. Reprinted from Naturally Vegetarian by Valentina Solfrini, by arrangement of Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group USA. A Penguin Random House Company, © 2017.
Serves: 4 as a side dish
- Florets from 2 large heads broccoli, or about 2 pounds
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small onion, ﬁnely diced
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅓ cup raisins, soaked and squeezed out
- ¼ cup water
- ⅓ cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted
Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 5 minutes or, even better, steam them for 10 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-low heat and add the garlic. Sauté for about 2 minutes, until the garlic releases its aroma.
Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent.
Add the broccoli and stir to coat with the oil, then add the brown sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and raisins. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, add the water, reduce the heat to low, and let cook, half-covered, for 30 minutes.
If the broccoli dries out too much, add a splash more water. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more, until any leftover water has evaporated and the broccoli is very soft and slightly caramelized. Sprinkle the toasted nuts on top.
VARIATION: For an extra-simple version of this dish, omit the vinegar, raisins, and pine nuts. It will be just as delicious.
- Try Fall Tuscan Minestrone, another recipe from this book
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