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I have a particular fondness for broccoli. It ranks very highly on my list of preferred vegetables and given that there is only one vegetable that I actively dislike, that's quite some feat. However, calabrese, as my grandmother insists that I call it, has a very short season. It's available all year round, but so much of it just tastes of generic green, rather than of broc... calabrese (sorry, Nana) that it's thoroughly disappointing. Hopefully, though, I've found a way to make it more interesting.

This one got served first time around alongside a beetroot gratin and a wild rice pilaf. The beetroot gratin was very creamy, but also heavily spiked with horseradish, so the broccoli/ calabrese needed to stand up to both of those elements. It worked really well. As for the beetroot gratin, I'll let in on that one when I've perfected the beef dish that is the meat-eaters' alternative.

If you prefer cauliflower or purple sprouting broccoli (or maybe if you're not overly keen on them but want to try them someway else), this will work an absolute treat.

As a final note, I really wanted to call this broccoli puttanesca, but wasn't sure if it could carry it off.

Ingrediments

1 head of broccoli (or calabrese, depending on grandmaternal insistence)

1 shallot, chopped finely
1 teaspoon capers (or more, or less, depending on how much you like them)

3-6 tablespoons good olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 fat clove garlic, minced
1 heaped teaspoon grain mustard
Salt and pepper

Method

Steam or boil your broccoli, whichever you prefer, until it is just cooked. You want it tender but not mushy. (That means no more than four minutes in boiling, salted water.) Drain it well.

Whilst the broccoli is cooking, combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and salt and pepper in a screw top jar and shake vigorously to combine them. The general rule for vinaigrettes is a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid, so how much oil you use will depend on how juicy your lemon is. Of course, if that's too sharp for you, don't be afraid to increase the oil, but don't over do it!

Dollop some dressing into the bottom of a serving bowl, tip in the drained-but-still-hot broccoli and the shallot and capers. Mix thoroughly. It should be coated but not dripping in the dressing. Add more if it needs it, and serve immediately.


Music to cook to: Goldfrapp. (Who else?)

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