I just got back from a week in London, and the first thing I need to mention is how rad it is. Besides being one of the most culturally diverse and historically rich places I’ve ever visited, it has one mean food scene. Even as a discerning vegetarian you can get a tasty, non-compromising meal on almost every corner. And their take-out situation is a whole other ballgame with salad bars, healthy sandwich joints, and juice and smoothie stands all over the place. Why can’t the rest of the world get on board with this idea of wholesome “fast food”? It takes longer to stand in line at a burger joint waiting to get your nuggets deep fried, than it does to scoop organic quinoa pilaf into a to-go box. Am I right?
Enter Ottolenghi, my newfound obsession. This past summer I compulsively forked over $40 for the extremely sexy cookbook, Plenty by Yottam Ottolenghi because the pictures were hot. Thank goodness the recipes actually live up to their visuals. Ottolenghi is the creator of four London-based eateries, the majority of which are take-out restaurants (there is only one sit-down place). He wrote the book after his vegetarian column in the Guardian, and because a great deal of enthused customers began requesting the recipes. Knowing how much this cookbook rocks my world, I couldn’t wait to get into the place to actually experience the food first hand. Thank goodness it actually lives up to the pedestal I’ve put it upon. And the concept is brilliant: fresh, delicious, healthy take-out where the menu changes with the seasons and the items are always adventurous. He’s mixing up tahini with lime juice and chilies, throwing pomegranate and roasted pistachios onto eggplant, grilling sweet potatoes like steaks with earthy spices and bright citrus. Ottolenghi is a culinary poet elevating take-out to a level of luscious sophistication, and my heart is stolen. The book, the cafés, the food, it’s all divine. Now all we have to do is convince him to go global.
This simple broccoli dish was inspired by one of many delights I tried at Ottolenghi, and although it is not in the cookbook, I’ve tried to recreate as best I could for you. Yes, I realize that I posted a roasted carrot recipe just a couple weeks ago, but this was a revelation. Roasted broccoli is a revelation. If you’re like me and in a broccoli rut, not really digging on steaming or eating it raw, get on board and rejoice in the nuttiness, the tender-crisp sensation, the glory of tasting broccoli again for the first time!
Spicy Roasted Broccoli with Almonds
1 large head broccoli (organic if you can get it)
¼ cup whole almonds
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. fresh, hot chili, sliced (more or less, to suit your taste)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. tamari
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash broccoli well, then remove the very end of the stem. Slice the entire head of broccoli and remaining stem in half down the center lengthwise, then cut each half in half again. Repeat until you have relatively small slices of broccoli tops with long stems. Place in a large bowl.
2. Prepare dressing and pour over broccoli. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the broccoli making sure it is well coated. Place broccoli on a baking sheet and set in the oven.
3. On a separate baking sheet, place almonds and set in the oven below the broccoli.
4. Roast broccoli and almonds for 15-20 minutes (the almonds will probably need less time), until the broccoli is just turning golden brown on the edges.
5. Remove everything from oven. Roughly chop almonds on a cutting board. Plate broccoli, season to taste. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Serve.
This would make a fabulous side dish for any meal, especially Thanksgiving dinner. Even though I am not in Canada, I will be celebrating over here in Denmark this weekend with plenty of Plenty, and of course, Spicy Roasted Broccoli with Almonds.