Monday, March 7, 2011

Meatless Monday: Broccoli A La Planxa

I have a confession to make. This recipe is a restaurant rip-off. While I wish I was blessed with the sort of creative genius that is the calling card of truly talented culinary artists, and the driving force behind the rapidly changing food and restaurant culture, I have come to accept the fact that I am creatively limited. But what I lack in originality and creativity, I more than make up for in culinary gumption and guile. While I have never tried to replicate a restaurant dish before, I have used other's recipes as inspiration for many of the dishes featured here on the blog--that is until now. Last weekend, I had dinner at Pazo, which is my favorite restaurant in Baltimore, and where I had my birthday dinner last year. I love this place for many reasons, the most important being the food--which is Mediterranean inspired, with heavy Spanish and Italian influence. One of my favorite items on the menus is the broccoli a la planxa, which is a simple dish of steamed broccoli with chili infused oil, a hint of garlic and lemon, and topped with pecorino cheese. You wouldn't think that such a humble dish would be something to write a blog post about, but this dish has held its own, and managed to remain on their vast and constantly changing tapas menu for several years. Yeah, it's good like that.

So last Monday, when I realized that a pound of broccoli and a few lemons had been sitting in my produce drawer for over a week, I knew I had to give this recipe a try--immediately. Miraculously, the broccoli was still in tip top shape--which is a little scary when I think about it--but I won't complain, since at least it wasn't money wasted. I didn't have chili infused oil or pecorino cheese, but I did have chili flakes, olive oil, and fresh Parmesan--which are staples I keep in my pantry at all times. I also don't have a vegetable steamer, but there's a reason for that--why steam when you can oven roast? I think you know where this is going...

With 6 simple ingredients (salt and pepper don't count) you have the makings of an amazing meal. Yes, I had broccoli and bread with olive oil as my dinner last Monday. and Tuesday as well.

I know I just lamented how much I love pre-chopped garlic, but I really thought that fresh sliced garlic was more appropriate for this dish, and less likely to burn in a hot oven.

If you're kitchen is lacking in the spice department, I highly suggest you find your nearest ethnic grocery store--African, Indian, Latin, basically any culture from a hot climate, and you can buy a boat load of spices for half of what you would pay at the grocery store! Seriously, I bought a 1 pound bag of these chili flakes at my local halal grocery store for about $2!

I've found myself using lemon zest a lot more often these days. The brightness of citrus make a big difference in the flavor of a dish.

Print this Recipe
Broccoli a la Planxa inspired by Pazo Restaurant

1 pound fresh broccoli, chopped into small florets
2-3 Tbsp Chili flakes
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
zest of 1 lemon
E.V. Olive oil
Sea Salt
Fresh Black Pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (or sheep's milk cheese like Pecorino or Manchego)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Arrange chopped broccoli pieces evenly on heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with a light, but even coat of olive oil. Add garlic slices, lemon zest, and chili flakes. Toss to coat evenly, make sure there are enough chili flakes that add a pop of red color without being overwhelming. (see picture). Finally top with a light dusting of salt and pepper to taste, toss again to distribute evenly. Place in oven on top rack, and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until broccoli is tender with bite (al dente). Top with grated cheese, and serve immediately.

The key to this dish is to not go overboard with the chili. They should add just a hint of heat, but the dish should not be spicy by any means. Of course, what's considered spicy varies largely person to person...

Pazo version. I think my rendition (first photo) came out pretty damn comparably
Happy Meatless Monday!

Have you entered the BROWNIE/BLONDIE GIVEAWAY yet?! If not, what are you waiting for?!


  1. That makes broccoli sound good. Damn good. I want to try this, for sure. Anything with garlic and chili/pepper flakes is golden in my books. Good find!

  2. That looks delicious just looking at it!! I'm a broccoli person! If I had a favorite veggie, they would be it! I will definitely try making this at home!

  3. If you can make me like broccoli I'll love ya forever! HAHA!



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