I am a big believer in having homemade condiments and pre-cooked grains and beans hanging around the fridge for so many reasons. The most obvious would be so that I can throw together a quick, delicious lunch in no time, which encourages me to eat healthier meals at home. A totally reasonable and good reason to have these homemade goodies around.
A less obvious reason is something that happened to me last night. I had a couple friends over for a rainy night hang out, and we decided to be super lazy and order in some delicious food. Our food was taking a really long time and we needed an appetizer to hold us over. I didn't think I had much in my fridge, but when I opened it I realized there was leftover shallot confit and pickled chilies from a few days ago, a head of broccoli, and some cooked quinoa. So in about five minutes, I whipped up an appetizer of charred broccoli with shallot confit and pickles chilies and threw over some quinoa. A pretty impressive and delicious impromptu app, that I owe all to the fact that I love to keep homemade condiments like shallot confit and pickled red chilies, and other goodies like cooked quinoa in my fridge.
It might seem like it takes a lot of effort up front to have these things hanging around, but I am about to convince you that it is WAY easier than it seems. The hardest part about making the confit is peeling the shallots, which takes less than 5 minutes. Then, all you have to do is cover them with some olive oil, throw it in the oven for about 45 mins, and you have enough shallot confit to last you a week or more. And those pickled peppers take less than five minutes from start to finish. These two simple tricks can be done anytime you have a few extra minutes in your day/evening, and will elevate any meal ....... but one of my favorite things to add them to is this broccoli dish.
Broccoli is one of the vegetables I eat most often, but it is also the one I get the least creative with. That is probably because this charring method is by far my favorite way to eat broccoli. It's so good, we make this at least 3 nights a week for dinner. There are tricks to getting that char just right, and it's all about the cut of the broccoli and not disturbing it while it's cooking. The cut is important because you want to make sure that each piece has a flat surface to lay on the cast iron, which gives more surface area for char. This requires you to take those florets and cut them in half down the center one more time so they each have one evenly flat side. Then, you lay each piece, flat side down, onto a scorching hot cast iron and DO NOT touch them for about five minutes. That is all. By that point they are pretty much done, they just need one good toss with some salt and pepper and they are ready to be all dressed up with the shallot confit and pickled peppers and devoured.
charred broccoli salad + shallot confit + pickled red chilies
for the shallot confit:
5-6 shallots, peeled and quartered
about 1 cup+ of olive oil
2 bay leaves
for the pickled chilies:
3 mild red chilies, de-seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup of sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
for the broccoli:
1 large head of broccoli, sliced into florets and sliced in half again (you want one side of the broccoli to have a flat surface)
a couple tablespoons of sunflower (high heat) oil
toppings: about 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
Make the shallot confit:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º.
- Place the shallots into a small loaf pan. You want them to evenly cover the bottom of the pan, so adjust the amount of shallots accordingly. Then, pour enough olive oil over the top so that the shallots are completely submerged. Depending on the size of your loaf pan, you will use one cup or more of olive oil to do this, which seems like a lot, but that olive oil is useable after the shallots are cooked. Add the two bay leaves.
- Bake the shallots for about 40 minutes, until they are completely cooked and soft. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a mason jar, cover. Set aside if you're using soon, or in the fridge if you're storing for later use.
Make the pickled chilies:
- Place the chilies, vinegar, and salt into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat off and allow it to sit and cool for a few minutes. Transfer the chilies and vinegar to a small mason jar, and leave on the counter until it cools. If using soon, leave them out, or cover and refrigerate if you're using another time.
Lastly, make the broccoli + assemble + serve:
- If you're using the pine nuts, quickly toast them for a couple of minutes in a dry cast iron over low heat. Remove and roughly chop.
- Using the same (large) cast iron, pour enough oil so it covers the bottom of the pan evenly, and heat over high heat. Once the oil is very hot, add the broccoli pieces, making sure each piece has the flattest side touching the pan. Leave the broccoli for about 4-5 minutes, undisturbed, until each piece is good and charred on that one side. The broccoli should be cooked though at this point, but still have a crunch to it. Season with salt and pepper, give it a stir and let it cook for another minute or two, and then remove the broccoli from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Top the broccoli with some of the shallot confit (about half), drizzling some of their oil over the top, several chili slices, and a drizzle of their vinegar, and finish with the toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately, warm.