Mum, can you bake some trees?

No, I haven’t turned into an arboretum’s worst nightmare. This is just my youngest asking me to cook broccoli!

The proper, adult version of “trees” is from the original Ottolenghi cookbook, but it requires a) hot chili peppers and b) more preparation, so sometimes it is not practical to make this. Having said this, Ottolenghi’s version is prettier because blanching the broccoli fixes the chlorophyll and the florets stay bright green. But looks aren’t everything

Ottolenghi recipe for Chargrilled Broccoli with Chilli and Garlic:

What you need:

2 heads of broccoli (about 500g)

115ml olive oil

4 garlic cloves

2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced

Coarse sea salt and black pepper

Very thin slices of lemon with skin (untreated!)

What to do:

  • Separate the broccoli into florets.
  • Blanch in boiling water for exactly 2 minutes (no longer!) and transfer to very cold water (with ice-cubes) to cool down.
  • Dry the broccoli thoroughly in a kitchen towel.
  • In a big bowl, toss the broccoli in 45cl of olive oil, and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  • Place a ridged griddle pan onto high heat and leave it there for at least 5 minutes until it is extremely hot.
  • Grill (or scorch) the broccoli in several batches and transfer the florets into a heatproof dish. (Don’t put on too many at a time!)
  • Put the remaining olive oil into a small saucepan with the garlic and chillies.
  • Cook at medium heat until the garlic is just golden.
  • Pour over the hot chillies, mix and adjust seasoning.
  • Cut an organic, untreated lemon in two and then into paper-thin slices and mix into the broccoli.


Kids’ broccoli:

I’ve been getting the best broccolini at the market the past few weeks (the season is over now), so I don’t even have to cut the florets apart, but when I do, I just try to get them to roughly the same size so they need the same cooking time.

What to do:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 C.
  • Toss the broccolini with a little salt, pepper and olive oil in a large bowl. (I do this with my hands. Much easier.)
  • Spread out on a baking tray in a single layer
  • Stick in the oven for about 20 minutes (The tops can get a bit crispy. Not to worry.)

That’s all. You can eat them hot, warm or cold. My kids adooore them. Edible trees. Yum!

This is one recipe they have started making by themselves. Go Project 2016!


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