Friday, September 7, 2012

Browned Onions and Broccoli

Broccoli is one of those vegetables I tend to serve up in a rather ho-hum way. Nuke or steam with garlic and serve with a few twists of fresh grated cheese. It's what I make when I need an easy green veggie.

Then I saw this fantastic Food and Wine recipe for "caramelized" broccoli. My first thought was "oh yum!", but my second thought was "why didn't they put onions in that?" My third thought was - but that's not really caramelized, it's just browned. This sort of alternative view thinking is why I never just make a recipe as written. Gets me in trouble sometimes, but usually all is well. This was one time when things did not just turn out well, they turned out awesome!

pic taken through steam. :(
Browned Onions and Broccoli

Things to assemble:

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion (your favorite: yellow or sweet, but not red)
1 twist of fresh ground sea salt
2 broccoli crowns selected for beautiful color and nice tight buds
1/2 cup water
3 t garlic, chopped (you can use pre-chopped from a jar or chop it yourself)
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
fresh cracked black pepper
Optional: lemon slices

How to Prep Ingredients:

Peel and slice the onion into long strips. Clean and separate the small heads from the crowns of broccoli. Trim off a bit of the stalk, but not all. Leave about an inch or two. Carefully peel off the outer darker green layer of the stalk. Peeling makes the tasty stalk quicker to cook. Slice the broccoli spears in half lengthwise. 

Chop the garlic, and measure all other ingredients. You can put the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in the same bowl.


In a large skillet (one with a nice tight fitting lid), heat the olive oil over medium heat. I used #6 on my electric burner. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and a twist of sea salt. Browned or caramelized onions are just about the only thing I salt and then, only just a bit. Allow to saute with minimal stirring until they onions begin to brown. 

Served as a side dish for pasta
Add the broccoli slices and give the whole thing a stir. Then spread out the broccoli so as much as possible sits on the floor of the pan. You might want to smoosh some of the onion off to the side. Cover with the lid and cook for about eight minutes until the parts of the broccoli that touches the skillet turn a lovely dark brown.

Remove the lid and stir. Add the water, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Recover the skillet and steam for approximately five minutes - just til the broccoli is fork tender. If you like softer broccoli, cook it up to seven minutes. Beyond that it will get mooshy, which is similar to smooshy but not so appetizing.

Remove the lid, give the mix a few twists of fresh cracked black pepper and a brief stir. Simmer until the rest of the liquid evaporates.

Serve immediately in a beautiful deeply colored bowl that sets off the lovely colors and textures of the veggies. Set out a plate of quartered lemons on the table - guests may want to squish on a bit of juice. I love the dish with lemon, my husband - not so much. If everyone loves it lemony, add the juice of one lemon to the mixture right before serving.


  1. just curious, why not red onions?

  2. I don't think they taste as good with the broccoli, but if you love them best give it a whirl!

  3. I can't get any other onions here but red ones :( (not counting spting onions)

    1. it is a "to taste" thing and I like different onions for different uses. Likely you are very used to the flavor of red onions on everything, so I'd say go for it! :D

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