Long-Cooked Broccoli


This month marks seven years (!) here at GFE. It's one of those milestones that is feeling significant, causing me to this about all of the changes I've seen here over the years. Gardens particularly allows this kind of reflection since they are always growing and changing. Perennial spaces don't have the same immediate gratification as say, a radish that is planted and then harvested in 30 days. But I love the slow progress our trees and shrubs make, things you don't even notice until you take a step back and look.

When did that ceanothus I planted on the hillside get so big? That was the first summer I worked at GFE, my first planting project, guided by our former staff member Nate Perry. I walked in our NW entrance on 7th Avenue the other day and realized it was once again time to prune the Loropetalum that is blocking our garden info. The area we planted under our new yellow sign is filling in nicely, the Cuphea finally bloomed, and the rose is starting to drape over the wood, just as we hoped. I remember there used to be a rotted old gazebo right by our south classroom and when we first lost it, I felt there was a gaping hole. Now I have come to love the openness in that part of the garden. At GFE, things are always growing and changing, some quickly, some only seen after years in the space.

Sometimes when thinking about March recipes I am fully in spring-mode, ready for peas and asparagus, light soups and crisp salads. But all this rain and cold weather have me fully planted in late winter and I am craving braised cabbagebeans and greens, and long-cooked broccoli. All of these things take a little time, but the end result is worth the wait.

After seven years, I am more excited than ever to keep gardening and enjoy the result of slow, steady progress.

Long-Cooked Broccoli
From The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

This recipe is deceptively delicious (I think it's the combination of lots of olive oil and the lemon finish!) and uses broccoli stems, an added bonus!

1.5 lbs. of broccoli
6 tbsp. of olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch of red chili flake (optional)
1 c. water
1 lemon

Slice the bottom off the broccoli stem and then trim off the crown. Peel the broccoli stem and slice it thinly. Break up the broccoli crown into small pieces.

Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a heavy bottomed dutch oven. Once warm, add broccoli, garlic, chili flake if using and a generous pinch of salt. Sautee for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant but not brown. Add water and bring the water to a boil.

Cover pot and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about an hour or until the broccoli is very, very tender. Stir occasionally and add a bit of water if at any point the pan gets too dry. Turn off heat and use a whisk or a wooden spoon to sir broccoli vigorously, breaking it up and smashing any chunks left. Squeeze the juice of one lemon and taste, adding salt or olive oil until it taste unctuous and perfect.