September 21, 2009

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan, or Why I Actually Like Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d'Arabian recently won the Next Food Network Star competition, and currently has a show called Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian. While I didn't watch the competition much, I was pulling for the long-haired dude, Jeffrey Saad, or the sassy Korean woman, Debbie Lee. I didn't like Melissa at all during the episodes I saw of the Next Food Network Star, because Food Network already has a cutesy blonde mom in the plastic-y form of Sandra Lee.

When Melissa won, I was mildly annoyed, but mostly just figured I'd skip her show in favor of...oh, anything else. Her "ten-dollar dinner for four" claim seems ridiculous, particularly because she advocates the use of things like canned salmon and makes "lemony shrimp."

Fast forward to a recent Saturday. I'm babysitting. I'm stuck grading and watching Food Network at their house, and Melissa's squirrelly smile scampers its way onto the screen. Fine, I think, I'll watch.

And then Melissa does something remarkable. She makes something that I actually want to eat. Roasted broccoli with Parmesan, to be specific. I try it as soon as I get home, and it is delicious. You, too, must try it. Props to Melissa for a great recipe (here's the original recipe).

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan

  • 1-2 pounds of broccoli
  • Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Olive oil (1-2 tbsp per pound)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash your broccoli and chop off just the rough bottom of the stalk. Leave enough stalk to give the broccoli a nice height, and then peel the rough stuff off the outside of the stalk. Cut the broccoli in quarters, lengthwise. The pieces should resemble broccolini.
2. Arrange the stalks on a baking sheet, then cover lightly with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Roast the broccoli for about 15 minutes. Some florets will get very brown. Do not be alarmed.
4. Remove broccoli from oven, flip each stalk over, and grate your Parmesan or Pecorino (I used Pecorino...yum) over the top. Liberally.
5. Cook for a few more minutes, until the cheese gets all brown-y and crispy and delicious.

The bottom line: even if she advocates canned salmon, Melissa d'Arabian is alright with me. This broccoli is awesome, and the best part is that it includes the stalks, which have some of the sweetest flavor of the whole plant.

If you make too much, save the leftovers and purée them with some chicken or vegetable stock, some sour cream, and a bit of salt and voilà! Instant cream of broccoli soup!

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