A forest in my kitchen does indeed seem magical! This is exactly what this recipe for the Enchanted Broccoli Forest promises. It is the recipe of the title of the excellent Mollie Katzen book, and I think I can say it is one of the most inspired recipe names I know.
I made it last Saturday (oh yes I am having a little blogger backlog!) when our friends Kim and Jo came for dinner. It seemed like a fun and delicious meal, and gluten free for Kim.
It is made with broccoli florets standing in a bed of rice but lest anyone think this is a wholesome but dull old-school vegetarian meal, check out the interesting ingredients: garlic, dill, mint, swiss cheese, pepper and chilli.
I get excited at the greenness of it, and yet after baking it, the broccoli went a little brown, despite being covered with foil. I think I felt less paranoid because I have a dim memory of this happening last time I made it (many years ago) but I am still willing for someone to let me know it is something I did rather than the recipe. Maybe barely cooking the broccoli might help. And it tasted great anyway, especially with the swiss cheese giving it a particular sweet nutty flavour.
It actually felt a bit like gardening when I had to make the holes in the bed of rice to ‘plant’ my broccoli trees in it. So when E asked for more risotto, I was black affronted he thought my enchanted forest was a mere risotto and took great delight in asking if he wanted more trees or more undergrowth.
I served it with a simple salad on the side: tomatoes, avocado, red capsicum, basil, lemon juice and pepper. It tasted fresh and looked great, especially the sweetest tomatoes from the Farmers Market. (But I got too caught up in conversation to photograph the salad in the forest when I served dinner!)
The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest
(From Mollie Katzen)
400g bunch of broccoli
2 cups brown rice
3 cups water
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Generous pinch of salt
½ tsp dill weed
Lots of black pepper
Chilli flakes, to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 cup swiss cheese (approx 100-150g), or cheddar
Juice from one lemon
Place rice and water in small to medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, lower heat and cover. Cook til just done – about 20-30 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Cut broccoli into little trees with a couple of centimetres of stalk still on (as you will need this length to plant the broccoli). Steam broccoli til just done (I suspect I overdid it by microwaving on high for about 5-6 minutes).
Meanwhile prepare other ingredients. In a medium to large saucepan sauté onion and garlic in butter over medium heat, stirring til onions are soft and translucent (8-10 minutes). Add remaining ingredients (except lemon juice) and rice and stir well.
Spread rice mixture into a greased 10 x 6 inch pan and smooth out. Use a skewer or end of a fork to make holes at regular intervals. Place broccoli in the holes. I don’t know I did this quite right as my broccoli was quite floppy – maybe it was too well cooked or the stems were too long but it still looked fine. Squeeze lemon juice over broccoli. The recipe suggested using mixed lemon juice and butter but I decided to leave out the butter.
Cover with foil (Mollie says gently but firmly) and bake at 180C for 30 minutes.
On the stereo:
Le Pavillon Témoin: Mathias Delplanque