Puy lentil & broccoli salad with roast garlic dressing

On Tuesday I nipped down to the Tate Modern, and ended up having lunch there. The current show on Kazimir Malevich is fantastic, incidentally, and the accompanying book is a beautiful thing.

The members room (some friends kindly got me a membership for Christmas. Thanks, guys) is a reasonably quiet place to have an only fractionally overpriced lunch with an amazing view over London. In this case, lunch was a genuinely fantastic lentil salad, bursting with garlic and richness. And I forgot to take notes. Bugger.

Lentil & broccoli salad with peppers and garlic

So this isn’t that. It’s a kind of from-memory analog, accounting for the head of broccoli I had left in, that wouldn’t keep much longer. It is also absolutely a keeper – deep and satisfying. This being me, it involves a whole bulb of roast garlic.

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Quick post: broccoli calzone

Filed firmly under “good problems to have” is the fact that I bought too much sprouting broccoli at the weekend. I also went to a food photography workshop – more on that later. Now, coming home tired on a Monday evening, and having to go out again shortly after wouldn’t normally leave me in the mood to cook much at all. But today some dumb, preposterous voice at the back of my head said: you’ve got enough time to make dough, and you’ll be out for about the rising time, you practically have to make pizza.

Yeah. Thanks, me. You prick.

Broccoli calzone

Anyway, calzone is cool. There’s a pub not far from me called the Haymakers which serves fantastic ones. It used to be a shithole to the extent that a friend once quipped that it was more likely named after the type of punch than anything done in the sunshine. No longer; it’s decent now, and the pizza is some of the best in town. The calzone turn up puffed out like a giant salmon, and about the size, deflating slowly to leave a still-ridiculous quantity of tasty, tasty pizza.

I was thinking about these as I’d rolled out the dough, and realised that I’ve still not got around to buying a peel, or anything useful to handle it with. Folding seemed prudent.

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Jalfrezi style broccoli curry

A few weeks ago while working up a slightly off-beat achari recipe, I asserted that making restaurant-style curry at home was at best impractical, and at worst a lost cause. It turns out we’re living in the best case scenario, and the practicality of dishing up a Brit curry standard is directly proportional to your patience for boiling and puréeing industrial quantities of onions.

Yep, I’ve read The Curry Secret, and the secret is “use the LD50 of alliums”.

Broccoli jalfrezi, simmering

Inspired by the book, and the fact that I’m spending February vegetarian again this year (Veguary), here’s an adaptation of my favourite curry house classic for my favourite vegetable.

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Broccoli walnut pesto

I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of pesto recipes lately, some going really quite a way off piste compared to a humble paste of garlic, basil, pine nuts, and all the oil and parmesan your doctor will let you pack yourself with. One in particular caught my eye, which was the cauliflower and almond pesto in the Smitten Kitchen book.

Smitten Kitchen is great, and if you don’t read the blog, you totally should.

Broccoli walnut pesto

I tried the cauliflower version, and although my stick blender wasn’t quite up to it, it was tasty as all hell. And it got me thinking. I love pesto, I love brassicas, cauliflower’s good and all, but what about motherfucking broccoli? Yeah, that’s right – broccoli. Bring it on.

(updated 01/09/15)

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Broccoli and ricotta pizza: iteration and umami

Kale pizza works. I thought it wouldn’t when I saw it in Veg Every Day, but it does.

So why not broccoli?

Broccoli is one of my favourite things, with that rich umami hit that seems to characterise the flavours I really go for. It’s like some perverse, savoury, mirror-world, sweet tooth.

So yeah, let’s try it. Let’s see if we can make this work.

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Broccoli and tofu with cashew nuts and sichuan pepper

This is substantially cribbed from a James martin recipe I found on BBC Good Food, so I won’t dwell on a full write up. It basically works, is all.

You fry tofu with broccoli and spring onions, some generic sauce ingredients (soy, vinegar, honey, rice wine) plenty of garlic, pak choi, and oodles of sichuan pepper:

Broccoli and tofu with sichuan pepper

What I will dwell on is how awesome sichuan pepper is. Fuchsia Dunlop raves about it in her food memoir, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, which is where I came across it first. It has a little heat, sure, but it’s not like western black pepper at all.

It’s peculiar. There’s a tingly, almost numbing feel to it, and a gorgeous spicyness. There’s something citric/metallic in the mix too, and it generally has much more flavour than it feels like a single spice has any right to. In short it’s fucking spiffing, and I’ll be using a lot.

I do think it needs a bit of chilli in support, though, and the sweetness of the honey in the sauce (the recipe says caster sugar, but balls to that) sets it off rather.