Tuesday, March 24, 2015

broccoli crostini with pecorino.

It was while Tyler and I were shoving toasts topped with roasted broccoli and pecorino into out mouths that I had a lightbulb moment.  Thinking about crostini as a vehicle for getting vegetables from plate to mouth opens up a whole new world of possibilities.  People usually regale vegetables to salads and side-dishes but if you think about them as an integral component to just about anything you eat, you will probably find yourself eating a hell of a lot more vegetables.   

I almost exclusively think about broccoli as a side-dish.  On occasion a component of a creamed soup but never the topping for a crostini.  Nashville changed that for me.  At Rolf and Daughters we ate one hell of a dish that even kids could love (they may not even notice that broccoli is under that layer of cheese) and so I set out to recreate it.  Because there is nothing I love more then vegetables covered in cheese.

This is my ode to that dish.   

Fontina laced bechamel serves as the base for crispy roasted broccoli that is showered in pecorino. It's salty, creamy, deliciousness that would be right at home at your next party (and also serves as an excellent weeknight dinner which is how we ate it).  

Broccoli Crostini with Pecorino

It took me several days to figure out what the base of the crostini would be.  I'm not sure if Rolf and Daughters used a bechamel in their version but it's the only thing that made sense to me and mimicked the creamy base their version had.  I imagine melted fontina would also work but it wouldn't be nearly as creamy.   

Makes 16 crostini  

For the Bechamel 

1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk (not skim!)
1/2 cup grated fontina
Salt and black pepper (lots of black pepper) to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.  

For the Crostini

8 medium slices of hearty bread (sourdough is best) sliced fairly thick
Olive oil for drizzling
2 heads of broccoli, florets cut into bite size pieces (save the stems for soup)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino for serving
Mike's Hot Honey (optional)

Cook the broocoli. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Put your broccoli florets into a bowl and toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Go easy on the salt as the pecorino is salty.  Dump the broccoli onto a baking sheet and roast until crispy about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Keep oven on.  

Make the béchamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Stir in the flour until a paste forms. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the béchamel sauce to a simmer over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the fontina until melted. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.  

Assemble the crostini.  Drizzle the toasts on both sides with olive oil.  Place the toasts on a baking sheet and put them in the oven until brown and crispy.  About 4 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with a generous layer of bechamel, 1/8th of the broccoli, a couple of shavings of pecorino, and a drizzle of Mike's Hot Honey if using.   Cut toasts in half and serve immediately.   

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