I didn’t notice the clouds. Or the slow residual heat turning spring to summer. I didn’t notice much other than the heaping bowls of salad we ate. Just picked green and red leaf lettuces dressed with tarragon vinaigrette fed us through spring. Along with an abundance of asparagus, strawberries, and rhubarb.
Grilled asparagus. Maple strawberries. Orange-rhubarb compote. Each a distraction from my favorite early spring crop, broccoli.
Then out of nowhere, a bunch of the locally grown brassica appeared in our farm share box. So long asparagus. For the next two weeks of its brief New England season, I ate as much broccoli as I could stomach, 1/2 to 1 pound a day, depending on what else was on the plate.
I thought about making broccoli and quinoa salad, vegetable fried rice, and a broccoli frittata, and then either out of laziness or a purist attitude toward the vegetable’s crisp yet tender flowerets and stalks ignored such lavish undertakings.
Broccoli deserves the simplest treatment, like a brief plunge into boiling water followed by a skillet toss with oil, ginger, and garlic. Edgy yet yielding. I repeated it night after night, never once tiring of it. Topped with a fried or poached egg and a side of toast or rice, I ate broccoli with gluttonous abandon in the hopes that spring would stay another night.
This, however, wasn’t the case.
Summer trounced in bringing fresh peas, radishes, summer squash, and more lettuce to the table, and I have to admit, I don’t really mind.
Ginger Broccoli Sauté
Yield 4 servings
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped fine)
1 small (1 to 2-inches, depending on taste) knob fresh ginger (peeled and chopped fine)
2 pounds broccoli
sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
optional garnish: 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Wash broccoli. In a medium bowl, add ice cold water; set in sink. Fill a 6-quart pot with water, about three-quarters full and bring to a boil. Add whole broccoli stalks and cook for 1 to minutes, or until a knife slides easily into the dense stalk (the florets will be bright green and the stalk just tender). Remove immediately and plunge parboiled broccoli into ice cold water. Empty and refill with cold water. Drain broccoli. Tear off any broccoli leaves; trim, peel, and slice the stems; break the flowerets into large pieces.
In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add broccoli flowerets and stems and cook until for 3 minutes, just until the broccoli is crisp-tender and bright green. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Generously sprinkle broccoli with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately with a poached or fried egg and toast.