Roasted broccoli

Roasted broccoli and walnuts in a garlic vinaigrette. (Photo by John Houser, for The Baltimore Sun / September 24, 2012)

Steaming, boiling and stir frying are the go-to cooking methods for broccoli, but oven roasting produces a much better result. Roasting broccoli brings out the muscle in the veggie by condensing the flavor and giving it crispy little browned spots packed full of flavor. This recipe is the missionary that will convert the holdouts from childhood who never became fans of these crunchy cruciferae.

The trick to this recipe is keeping the broccoli dry. Wet broccoli will steam, so if it's not visibly dirty, skip washing it or wash and meticulously dry it. The garlic paste in the vinaigrette is slightly cooked by the hot broccoli, softening its bite. The walnuts and chiles give contrasting flavor, and the anchovies should not be considered optional. You can substitute Parmesan or pecorino for the Asiago, however.

john@rouxde.com

Roasted broccoli and walnuts in a garlic vinaigrette

Makes: 8 servings

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic microplaned or mashed to a puree

1 large chile finely chopped

2 anchovy filets mashed to a paste

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

2 pounds broccoli, florets cut off and stalk peeled and cut into quarters 2 inches long

4 ounces walnuts, roughly chopped

2 ounces Asiago cheese, shredded on the small holes of a grater box

Position an oven rack in the top slot and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix garlic, salt, chilies, anchovies and vinegar. Let mixture commingle while the broccoli roasts. Set the dry broccoli onto a sheet pan in one layer and place into the oven on the top rack. Roast for 20 minutes. Pull the sheet pan out of the oven, stir the broccoli and then mix in the walnuts. Place broccoli back into the oven for another 10 minutes. While the broccoli is roasting for its final 10 minutes, mix the olive oil into the garlic paste mixture thoroughly. After the broccoli and walnut mixture is pulled from the oven, immediately transfer to a large heat-proof bowl and toss with the garlic and chile vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the Asiago cheese and serve.