No doubt about it, Canadians love their barbecues, and grilling in the summer is practically a national pastime. We grill corn and eggplant, we grill extra veggies and save them in the freezer and we even use the barbecue to steam vegetables that we otherwise think inappropriate for grilling. And I’ll be the first to admit that, until quite recently, one of those vegetables that I didn’t think was so great on the grill is the humble but beautiful broccoli. Sometimes I love being wrong.
I recently dined at one of Toronto’s most beloved restaurants, Edulis and one of the standouts was a side dish of grilled broccoli. I instantly became a convert and asked Chef Tobey Nemeth about it. Tobey cuts the broccoli into manageable pieces and blanches them for a few minutes then immerses them in an ice-bath to stop the cooking and then they are set aside. When needed they are placed onto the hottest part of the grill and cooked until slightly charred, then seasoned, plated and served. Totally easy and quick and simple, and astonishingly delicious; slightly crunchy still, but tender and succulent, with a slightly nutty, smoky flavor that certainly does not exist in you grandmother’s broccoli.
Broccoli done this way is so good there is no need to slather on the butter or cheese sauce or shake half a can of parmesan all over it. It stands on its own for sure, even as a snack all unto itself, as I found out the other night when we polished off a whole head of broccoli in one sitting! If you have a barbecue that uses hardwood charcoal rather than gas, so much the better, as the smoke adds a flavour that puts this dish over the top.
While my husband grilled I whipped a quick romesco sauce as an accompaniment. The combination of locally grown Ontario broccoli, grilled to a smoky and crunchy perfection and served with this classic Catalonian spread of nuts, pimento, tomato garlic and was a match made in barbecue heaven. Finally, broccoli is sexy.
Grilled Broccoli with Romesco Sauce
1 head of broccoli
salt and pepper to taste
Romesco sauce (see recipe here)
Trim broccoli of leaves and remove the stem for later use. Cut broccoli into several smaller florets. To blanch, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and plunge broccoli into it, boiling for about 2 minutes. Drain, or remove broccoli with a slotted spoon and immerse into an ice bath until cool. Remove from ice water and set aside.
When ready, place broccoli florets on a very hot grill and let cook for about 1 to 2 minutes before turning over. Cook on all sides until desired level of doneness is achieved. Remove from grill, season with salt and pepper and serve with romesco sauce.