Pan steamed broccoli
I just had some beautiful broccoli for lunch, pan steamed, with a hint of garlic and nothing else. It was soft, melting, but retained a little bite. savory, punchy, and yet it had nothing but sea salt added.
All this happened because I happened to cook it just right. I don´t always get it so perfect, but today I did. I know it was that, because the broccoli itself wasn´t much; your basic supermarket head, somewhat rubbery and beginning to yellow from having been in my fridge a little bit too long.
I just say this to remind everyone not to be too hung up upon the Myth of the Marvelous Ingredient. Sure, the fresher the better, and yes, starting out with marvelous ingredients helps, but...you still have to cook. It´s annoying and patronizing and plain stupid to convince people that unless the produce was harvested within a mile of them by vestal virgins they needen´t even bother to start.
Can you imagine an article on decoration beginning with "unless your bedroom is in a XV century palazzo overlooking the Canal Grande, there´s no point in painting a wall this shade of blue"? Or someone saying "don´t bother to learn to drive if you´re not prepared to get a Ferrari".
Cook, even if the vegetables are wilted.
This works with all vegetables, but the time they take to cook will vary. It is a very easy way to cook, and has more flavor than usual, as no nutrients are lost on the way. You also need less fat than with the usual steam-then-sautee method.
Put a non-stick pan that has a lid on the hob, with a bit of oil or butter or both. A very little will do. Put a smashed garlic clove or two in there, let it cook while you prepare the broccoli.
Cut the florets, peel the stalk and dice it. Add to the garlicky fat, swirl, and pour a half cup of water in the pan. Cover, and let steam.
You might need to add water if it dries up, or uncover and turn up the fire if it´s almost cooked and there is a lot still. Either way, keep an eye on it. Five minutes is usually enough.
You can add spices, or anchovies, to the oil with the garlic for a change of flavor.