After being away from the kitchen for most of December and away from each other for most of the week, Glenn and I couldn’t bare to eat another meal out or go to the grocery store. So we took the only fresh vegetable from out refrigerator, along with words of wisdom from some of our Christmas gifts, and came up with this satisfying dinner.
Santa Claus (aka my brother and his wife) gave me Mark Bittman’s Food Matters and I gobbled it up on the plane home from Kansas City. The book is somewhere between a guide to conscious eating and a weight loss plan, but mostly it reminded me of the realizations I came to when I moved to Chicago and started cooking for myself. I grew up eating typical Midwestern casseroles and had no intention of changing my diet until I learned that meat (even ground beef!) could be four times as expensive as vegetables. Vegetables not only cost less, but also weighed less, making them easier to carry home on the L. Also, it made sense to buy fresh ingredients since I could only carry enough for about three days and I knew they wouldn’t spoil before my next trip to the store. These factors led me to eat a fresher, more vegetarian, more improvised diet.
When I moved to Greensboro, I lost sight of those factors. I had more room in my trunk for giant boxes of pasta, four-pound pot roasts, and all sorts of things I couldn’t afford in Chicago. I forgot the joy of opening the vegetable crisper, sizing up the contents, and determining how those particular pieces wanted to be prepared. Bittman’s book reminded me of those methods and the satisfaction of eating the results. And so I bring you Braised Broccoli.
The most exciting thing about this method is that you can use all the same ingredients that you always have in your kitchen, but the result tastes completely different from the green vegetable sides that you have with every meal. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until it caramelizes slightly. Add a vegetable (cut into large chunks). Once it is nicely browned, add an inch of liquid (red wine, white wine, broth, beer, etc.) to the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are done. We tossed this broccoli with pasta to round out the meal.