Monday, April 28, 2014

Simple Steamed Broccoli with Lemon

It's common to dress cooked green vegetables with lemon juice. I have a real problem with this. First, lemon juice is powerful stuff and can overpower everything and make the flavor too tart. That probably explains the generous dousing with butter or oil that follows the lemon juice. Another problem with lemon juice is its acidity. You know that dull green color that comes from overcooking green vegetables? That happens when you put an acid on green vegetables too. Ick. If you dress a big bunch of broccoli with lemon juice and don't finish it, next time you look at it, it's going to be dull green. And mushy too because the acid softens up the fiber. Double ick.

I do like the bright lemon flavor on green vegetables, however. Here's my solution: use lemon zest. You can use just lemon zest and oil. Or you can mix the lemon zest with some fresh herbs like parsley or thyme. Both of those herbs are bright, enhancing the lemon even more. If you can find lemon thyme, even more lemon! It's super easy. You can use frozen herbs instead of fresh. A light squeeze of lemon juice is nice but only for broccoli you will eat right away.

This recipe is a variation on our Simple Steamed Broccoli. At the very end, it's tossed with a bit of lemon zest. Instant lemony flavor without the overwhelming tart taste and it holds up in the fridge great.

Simple Steamed Broccoli with Lemon Zest
(serves 4-6, costs $3.13)

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 lb. broccoli, broken into small florets and stems peeled and cut into 1/4" slices
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh minced parsley or 1 teaspoon thyme leaves (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ tsp salt, or more to taste
lemon wedges, optional

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium saucepan or skillet with a cover over medium heat.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant but not browned. Don't burn it - it turns bitter.

Add broccoli and toss to cover with oil. Add 1 Tablespoon water,  which should immediately create a lot of steam. Cover and steam broccoli for 5-6 minutes, until crisp-tender. Try a piece after 4 minutes if you like your broccoli crisp. If it's not cooked enough, cook for another minute or two.

Sprinkle with lemon zest, remaining oil, salt, and herbs, if using. Mix to combine and serve with lemon wedges, if desired. Can be refrigerated. Excellent served cold but you may need more salt. Cold temperatures dull flavors.

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