“Well, you know the railroads built those fruit cars. I went down and had a look at them. They’re pretty good. Do you know we could ship lettuce right to the east coast in the middle of winter?”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
The massive El Nino storms have paused. It has been warm, which feels like spring. I was looking ahead to early spring with the first harvest of local produce when I learned that Tanimura and Antle grows Artisan Sweet Broccoli year round in the Salinas Valley. To grow a perishable commodity like broccoli, year round in the same place is amazing! The day I went to take photos of the Artisan Sweet Broccoli fields in Spreckels, the sun was shining and it felt like spring had already arrived. Next month the harvest of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and other produce will bring the Salinas Valley alive from it’s short winter slumber.
This is a sweet broccoli with long slender stems. The entire stem is tender and not at all thick and fibrous like regular broccoli. When the Artisan Sweet Broccoli is cut, it is gathered and banded into bunches and packed for the grocery store right in the field. The freshly packed vegetables are transported from the field to the cooler without any stops at a processing plant. The field packed produce from Tanimura and Antle has not been rinsed in chlorine or placed in a MAP bag or container. Artisan Sweet Broccoli cooks very quickly making it a perfect weeknight dinner companion. It’s sweeter, milder taste is a very pleasant discovery, especially for those who are not fond of the nutritious family of vegetables called brassicas. When cooking, keep on the side of crisp tender for the best flavor. Overcooked brassicas develop a much stronger flavor.
This is an easy recipe that becomes much more than its individual components. The vibrant family of brassicas (or cruciferous vegetables) are best paired with other bold and bright flavors. Sweet Meyer lemon, tangy feta cheese and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes give this simple recipe all the character of a great vegetable recipe. Roasting the Meyer lemon might seem like an extra step but the lemon flavor becomes concentrated and sweeter. The roasted lemon and it’s juice coat the sweet broccoli with a bright zing that raw lemon misses.
|Spicy Sweet Broccoli with Roasted Lemon and Feta|
|1||bunch Artisan Sweet Broccoli|
|1/4t||fine grain sea salt|
|1/8C||crumbled feta cheese|
|1/4t||dried red pepper flakes|
- Heat the oven to broil. Lightly oil a small sheet pan. (Parchment can catch on fire at high heat.) Cut the lemon in 1/4” slices and remove the seeds. Spread the slices across the surface of the sheet pan. On the top shelf of the oven, broil the lemon slices just until they start to brown. Remove from the oven to cool. Turn the oven temperature to 450°.
- Place the broccoli on a large sheet pan, drizzle with the oil and salt. Toss the spears to coat. Spread the broccoli across the surface of the sheet pan in a single layer. Roast in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes, just until the broccoli tips start to brown. The buds will be tender while the stems will retain some crispness.
- Plate the warm broccoli with a few slices of lemon, the crumbled feta and as much red pepper as you like.
A visit to Tanimura and Antle’s broccoli fields near their home office in Spreckels was a magnificent morning adventure. I was given Artisan Sweet Broccoli for recipe testing. This is not a sponsored post; the recipe and opinions are my own.
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