This is the second in a 6-week series chronicling my adventures in the kitchen with my cooking club at school – Les Petits Chefs – using recipes from the book C is for cooking, which I received for review.
This week’s recipe is Lidia Bastianich’s C is for Cheesy Crunchy Broccoli Cauliflower (you can find the adult version of the dish – with some spice – here. I have slightly changed this recipe to reflect what really happened!)
it’s all about organization with little chefs:
1 pound broccoli
1 pound cauliflower
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons soft butter, for the baking sheet
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano (I added some mozzarella to cut the sharp flavour a bit too)
3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Lemon slices, for serving
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.
Prepare the baking sheet by by greasing it with the butter:
Snap or slice off the big clusters of broccoli and cauliflower florets from the stems. Trim the stalks of the broccoli pieces but don’t separate the tiny florets. Slice the cauliflower clusters in half or quarters so that they’re roughly equal in size to the broccoli pieces. You’ll need only the floret pieces for the dish, so save all the good stalk and stem pieces for soup or another dish.
(ahem – here some of the boys got a little obsessed with the broccoli florets being the exact same size and what ended up happening was similar to when, as a little girl, I would cut my Barbie’s hair. You know how plastic doll hair won’t cut straight? Wells I just kept on hacking away at it, determined to get it straight… Barbie had a very – shall we say – short ‘do! The broccoli florets ended up being way smaller than I had intended them to be but hey – they were of uniform size, which we discussed was great because it meant they would all cook evenly!)
Par boil the broccoli and cauliflower florets until they are al dente. Drain and cool slightly.
Grate the cheese, chop the parsley and mix in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, olive oil, pepper and salt.
Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, rotate the pan back to front for even browning, and cook 10 minutes more. The florets should be crispy and nicely colored but may need a few more minutes for deep color. If they’re still not dark enough after 5 minutes, raise the oven heat or move the sheet to a higher rack and bake a bit longer.
Let the vegetables cool on the sheet briefly, then arrange them on a serving platter. Scrape up the crispy bits of crumbs and cheese and crumble them over the florets. Serve warm or at room temperature, with sliced lemon. Eat them by squeezing a few drops of juice onto a floret and popping it in your mouth.
Doesn’t it look amazing? The boys were quite excited to make this dish – I was shocked!!! They loved the smell of the cheese and I caught quite a few of them sneaking bits and pieces of cheese, breadcrumbs, raw cauliflower etc… in their mouths when they thought I wasn’t looking! Who said kids don’t eat their veggies??? As an experiment for timing, I made this dish on the weekend and this is what mine looked like:
This is a great side dish to make with your little ones – so many jobs you can involve them with and less than an hour from start to finish (unless you have 15 little boys – we took just over an hour, but since we don’t have a dishwasher, I think it was well done!) so a perfect before-dinner or weekend afternoon project.
I am really enjoying working with the boys in the science lab/kitchen and can’t wait till next week. We’re baking a sweet treat!