I had been in a broccoli rut. Steamed, steamed, steamed, sometimes stir-fried, rarely exciting. I am happy to report that boring broccoli days are over– this dish is exciting and delicious and versatile, as all good dishes should be. Roasting is a cure for most vegetable boredom; though I usually think of root vegetables and squash, roasted broccoli is almost surprisingly delicious. The best part about roasting anything is the amount of flavor you achieve with very little effort. Bacon adds salt, fat and flavor to the dish, as bacon does; bring sweet shallots to the party and you have the winning combination of salty, sweet, crunchy/crisp and sour. I make this a main entree by serving the broccoli with Israeli couscous, as pictured, cooked barley or rice, but it could also be a side dish to accompany pork, chicken or pasta. I think it would be really good with a hearty lasagna or baked ziti dish, as well. An everyday meal with festive flare, the recipe you may be looking for this holiday season. Enjoy!
Roasted Broccoli with Bacon (serves 2-3 as an entree; 4-6 as a side)
- 3 – 4 strips of good-quality bacon, preferably uncured
- 1 lb. broccoli, florets removed, stem peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- up to 2 T. olive oil
- 1 – 2 shallots, peeled and quartered
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 T. red wine vinegar
- cooked Israeli couscous, barley or rice to serve (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In an oven-safe large skillet or Dutch oven, cook the bacon strips over medium heat (on the stovetop) until almost but not quite cooked; you want the fat to render, but don’t let the bacon get crispy. Not yet. Remove the pan from the heat, take out the cooked bacon and chop or tear coarsely into smaller, but not tiny, pieces. Estimate how much bacon fat is in the pan and add olive oil to make a total of 3 T.; my bacon yielded about 1 1/2 T. drippings, so I added the same amount of olive oil. Add the broccoli and shallots to the pan and toss to coat with oil/bacon drippings. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 20 mins.
At this point, the broccoli should be tender but not quite done. Remove the pan very carefully and stir the vegetables; you want them to brown evenly. Sprinkle the mostly-cooked bacon over the top and return to the oven for another 10 mins. After 10 mins., the broccoli should be fork-tender and the bacon should be crispier. Toss with the red wine vinegar, pepper and salt, if necessary, depending on the saltiness of your bacon. Serve immediately, plain or over Israeli couscous, barley or rice.