I have always felt that vegetables are the neglected children of dinnertime. Underloved, underattended, and, unlike children, underwhelming—in most cases.
Having grown up as a vegetarian for twelve years, I learned to appreciate the gilded vegetable. At a restaurant in Monaco, I still remember the ratatouille that was cut up into perfect travel-sized dice, each cooked separately and appropriately, and amalgamated into Provençal perfection. And "isn't it romantic" when the pariah steals the show—like Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, or My Fair Lady, or Funny Face, or any movie she ever made? Vegetables may appear scrawny and from the wrong side of the supermarket aisle, but with a bit of finesse, they become the belle of the ball.
For this recipe, I start with large florets of broccoli that I then simply "stuff" with lemon zest, crumbled good, piquant Roquefort cheese, and baguette crumbs that I've rubbled from old ends of baguette and kept in the freezer. Roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, the broccoli becomes the forest nests for bright bread crumbs and bubbling, crisped, sharp cheese. The broccoli itself softens and chars into a nutty, sweet, vegetal clasped hand, cradling all the flavor and embellishment a vegetable could ever want.
- 1 pound broccoli florets
- 1 cup baguette crumbs
- 4 ounces Roquefort cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Note:To make baguette crumbs, place torn chunks of any day-old baguette into the food processor, and grind to a rubble. You can keep these sealed in a baggie in the freezer.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a bowl, rub together the baguette crumbs, Roquefort, olive oil, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Toss with the broccoli, and arrange the whole thing on a baking sheet in a flat mound, so the broccoli is all in an even single layer, but touching--this allows the broccoli to catch the melting cheese.
Roast for 30 minutes, turning once. Serve immediately.