Vegetable dishes are often made merely to accompany a main course. As such, they are often thrown together at the last minute without much forethought. There is no reason why the vegetable should play second fiddle to the main course when it comes to presentation or flavor. There are a wide variety of ways to prepare vegetable accompaniments to give them a unique twist or possibly even make them the highlight of the meal. Stews, fritters, and soufflés are just the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s an easy and unique way to prepare vegetables that will amaze your guests and make a suitable addition to most any meal. This recipe calls for broccoli as the main ingredient but any number of other vegetables can be substituted from carrots, to leeks, to corn. When deciding on which vegetable to use, think about what color as well as what flavor you want to present on your plate.
What you will need:
1 pound of broccoli
1 cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Start by separating the broccoli tops from the stems. Peel the fibrous outer layer from the stems and chop them, along with the tops, into pieces of similar size. Soften the broccoli by boiling it in salted water for about 60 seconds then submerge it in cold water to keep it from overcooking.
In a large skillet, sweat the onions in the butter until they soften and turn translucent. Add the broccoli to the skillet and sauté it for about 2 minutes to remove any excess moisture. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a blender and add the rest of the ingredients. Puree until smooth and pour into whatever type of mold you have on hand.
This dish is often made in small, 2 ounce, stainless steel cups, which are marketed as sauce cups. If you don’t have any of these on hand, you can use any type of proper mold you can find from cupcake tins to a bunt-cake pan. If you are in the market for a set of sauce cups you might want to check out a restaurant supply store like Wasserstrom, located just off I-75 at the Mitchell exit. They cost about $3/dozen and come in handy on occasion.
Grease the cups or molds with cooking spray and fill them with the puree leaving a little space at the top. Place the molds in a roasting pan and fill the pan with enough water to cover the molds by half. You may want to do this at the oven to avoid any accidental spills or splashes that could occur along the way. The water will help regulate the oven temperature and allow the puree to gently solidify.
Slide the pan into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the puree appears solid. To unmold the flan, run a paring knife or a wooden skewer around the outer edge and turn it over on a plate. If you used a larger mold, cover it with the plate and flip them over together to unmold.
This recipe makes about 1 dozen 2 ounce portions.