Broccoli. I’ve grown to love it, but it certainly didn’t come easy. I can’t really blame myself, though, because my mom always boiled it until it was mushy and a little grey looking and served it plain, maybe with a bit of butter and salt, but that was it. It just wasn’t my thing.
In my 20s I learned to steam it gently so it kept its bright green color and reserved some crispness. It was better. But still not my favorite.
Then one day a few years ago a friend introduced me to garlic roasted broccoli. Now THIS was a broccoli I could get on board with. A little crispy. A little browned, which gave it an almost sweet taste. And garlic? Well, who can complain about that?!
So I started roasting my broccoli – with garlic – and I actually started having an affinity for it. It went with anything – chicken, beef, noodles – and then, because I like things spicy, I started adding chili flakes. Now I was really rockin’ it.
I’ve been eating it that way for years now and loving my broccoli multiple times a week. Even after I started eating Paelo, it was still a regular at my table. One night, I served it to a bunch of friends and one of them joked “don’t you Paleo people put bacon in everything? Why isn’t there bacon in the broccoli?”
It was a lightbulb moment. How could I make my garlic spicy broccoli even better?! The answer was obvious: BACON.
I had to fuss with this for a bit to get it right. I tried bacon chopped into small pieces with a knife. It was ok, but I wanted the bacon to stick to the broccoli and it wasn’t working. I chopped it smaller and smaller until finally one day I threw it into the food processor and ground it up. That was when I recognized I needed a binder – something to make it all stick together.
Dijon mustard was the answer. Not only did it make the bacon stick to the broccoli, but it added a bit of tanginess that complimented the salty-savory-spicy of the bacon garlic chili broccoli perfectly. It’s a perfect bite.
This has really moved broccoli to the next level in my life. It’s gone from a dislike, to a like, to a prefer, to a MUST HAVE. And it’s gone from side dish to – I admit it – stand-alone snack or small meal. When I have leftovers of bacon broccoli (which is at least once a week) I usually eat them for a snack. It the perfect snack: a healthy veggie, full of flavor, and it’s just as good chilled as it is fresh out of the oven. The bacon gives you a bit of protein and of course tons of flavor, the broccoli has all those green veggie good-for-you vitamins (which are preserved by roasting it – you lose them all when you boil it!), and it’s salty and crunchy. Better than potato chips any day!
Broccoli, you’ve come a long way baby!
- 1 ½ pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into long spears
- 2 ounces sliced bacon
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat cook bacon until crisp. In a food processor, pulse the cooked bacon with the garlic until finely chopped.
- In a bowl, toss the broccoli with the bacon-garlic crumbs, Dijon mustard, sesame seeds, salt, chili flakes and olive oil. Spread the broccoli on the prepared baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, turning once, until tender and browned in spots.
- Remove from the oven and serve.