A side dish for the autumn, but also a good one for serving with soft polenta. First make the crumbs: tear apart 60g of coarse-textured fresh bread and put it in the bowl of a food processor. Add 60g of stoned green olives, 1 peeled clove of garlic and 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes, then process to coarse crumbs. Pour in 50ml of olive oil. Finely grate, but do not add, the zest of 1 lemon and have ready 1 tbsp of drained capers.
Put a medium-sized pan of water on to boil. Trim 450g of fresh, bright green long-stemmed broccoli. It should be in perfect condition. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and let it cook for 1 minute only. The colour will brighten, but the stems should stay crisp. Drain immediately. Warm a griddle pan.
Put the broccoli on the hot griddle for 4 or 5 minutes until lightly toasted. The exact timing will depend on the heat of your pan. Turn and cook the other side.
Warm a dry pan over a moderate heat and add the oiled and seasoned crumbs. Cook until toasted and the garlic is fragrant, moving them around the pan so they don’t burn. Stir in the lemon zest and capers.
Transfer the grilled broccoli to a serving plate, then scatter with the hot, toasted crumbs and a crumble of sea salt. A trickle of olive oil is a welcome addition.
This is a good dish for serving on rounds of thick, olive-oily toast, for tossing with ribbons of pappardelle or fettuccine or for piling on top of soft polenta. I also use it as a side dish for any grilled meat or fish.
Crisp the broccoli in a bowl of water and ice cubes for 20 minutes before cooking.
If you use the thick-stemmed broccoli instead, slice each floret in half or quarters – it will cook more evenly.
I like to keep the leaves on the broccoli. They are too good to discard. If the stems are on the thick side, slice them, finely too. Little or nothing gets wasted.
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