The Currabinny cooks: Recipes with brilliant broccoli

Pictures: Brid O’Donovan

IS THERE anything more elegant and beautiful on a plate than tender-stem broccoli? It serves to introduce a flash of green to any meal and goes well with almost anything.

From early spring to early summer, the tenderstem and purple sprouting varieties of broccoli appear, bringing new possibilities in broccoli eating with them. These varieties are amazing when grilled, charred, barbecued or sautéd in butter. Pair with zesty flavours or spices like ginger and chilli and also with salty meats and cheeses.

Regular, usually ‘calabrese’ broccoli is also abundant this time of year as it is pretty much year round. When buying make sure you choose nice large, dense and very dark green heads which show no sign of yellowing. Use soon after buying as they don’t keep well.

There are so many health benefits to broccoli which include being great sources of fibre and protein as well as iron, calcium, potassium and a host of vitamins.

There are many out there who don’t enjoy broccoli at all but hopefully within the following recipes there is perhaps a way of eating broccoli that you haven’t tried before.

Smothered in cream, parsley and lemon in an indulgent pasta with salmon is so comforting and packed with flavour that you might forget why you ever felt animosity to something that works so well to elevate this dish.

In a delectable sandwich, packed in with salty halloumi and smothered in zingy mayonnaise, charred tender stem broccoli gives the perfect crunchy texture and smokey sweetness.

In a salad, charring broccoli works perfectly too, this time under a grill or broiler, it allows you to keep the crunch and body of broccoli while losing any rawness in flavour.

Salmon, Samphire and Tenderstem Broccoli Pasta

One of the neighbours in Currabinny used to harvest samphire from the little cliffs which jut down from the forest before they crumble into the sea. 

I didn’t think much of it when I was little but I have since grown to absolutely adore this salty little weed. Almost nothing goes better with fish and I think it adds a really special element to this simple salmon, broccoli and cream pasta dish.

350g salmon fillets, skin removed

400g dried pappardelle pasta

400g tenderstem broccoli

100g samphire

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

150ml cream

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp olive oil

In a small pot boil some salted water and add the broccoli and samphire, simmering for two minutes. Drain the broccoli and samphire, cooling it down immediately with cold water and leaving aside.

In another, larger saucepan, bring some well salted water to boil and add the pasta. Simmer for eight to 10 minutes until al dente. Drain and stir through some olive oil and leave aside.

Cut the salmon into large pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat up the tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and add the salmon along with the broccoli and samphire. Cook for around one minute before adding cream.

Bring the cream to a simmer and add the lemon zest, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Make sure the salmon has been cooked all the way through in the cream before removing from the heat.

Stir the pasta through the sauce and serve.

Sandwich of Halloumi, Seared Tenderstem Broccoli, Spring Onion with Lime and Coriander Mayo

There are endless possibilities with sandwiches and this one with Halloumi and tender stem broccoli is also possibly the only vegetarian sandwich we make that stands up to the meat ones in terms of the pure indulgence of hot, juicy ingredients inside two pieces of bread. This sandwich may not be very polite but it is delicious. 

Lime is a perfect companion to halloumi and apart from putting it in the mayonnaise, we also like to drizzle lime juice over the halloumi slices in the griddle, to smoke and sizzle. 

200g of halloumi, in thick slices (4-6 slices)

1 lime, cut in half for squeezing over halloumi

6-8 tender stem broccoli stalks

4 spring onions, green ends cut off

1 clove of garlic sliced thinly

Rapeseed oil

50g butter

Some good fresh bread, preferably something baguette-like

For the mayo

1 handful of coriander leaves, chopped finely

2 tbsp of fresh lime juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp dijon mustard

A few drops of tabasco to taste

180g of good quality mayonnaise

To make the mayo, whisk together the ingredients in a bowl until well combined.

Heat a little rapeseed oil on a grill pan/griddle/frying pan over a medium high heat. Cook the slices of halloumi, two minutes each side until golden and crispy. I like to squeeze over the lime juice directly onto the halloumi while it is cooking, both sides. Set the halloumi to one side, preferably on a warm plate or in a warm oven.

Add the sliced garlic, tenderstem broccoli and spring onion to the same pan, season and cook for around five minutes until everything is tender and lightly charred. Remove the broccoli and spring onion and leave in a warm place with the halloumi.

Put the butter on the same pan and leave to melt in all the garlicky, limey juices. Open up an appropriate size section of baguette and place cut side down on the pan with the melted butter. Fry the bread for roughly two minutes.

When the bread is done, start to assemble your sandwich by slathering both sides in the mayonnaise. Place the halloumi on the bottom and top with the broccoli and spring onion until it is very well stuffed. Close over and take a bite.

Charred Broccoli, Kale, Chickpeas and Ricotta

Charring broccoli is perfect for anyone who doesn’t usually enjoy eating broccoli. This way of just about cooking broccoli leaves a delicious sweet charred outside infused with garlic, while still being satisfyingly crunchy on the inside but without any hint of rawness.

We serve this warm salad on a nice large platter but would also be wonderful as a lunchbox salad.

1 head of broccoli, stalk cut away and cut into florets

400g tin of chickpeas

1 garlic clove, crushed

60ml olive oil

1 bunch of curly kale, stalks removed, cut into small pieces

250g ricotta

2 tbsp of tarragon

2 tbsp of parsley

Zest of half a lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp of chilli flakes

Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the grill in your oven to high.

Toss the broccoli with the chickpeas in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and grill for five minutes, tossing once until the broccoli is starting to become tender but is still bright green, slightly charred with a good bite.

Massage the kale pieces with the lemon juice and a little sea salt until just starting to become tender. Arrange the broccoli and chickpeas on a platter and arrange the kale pieces in and amongst the mixture. sprinkle over the herbs, tossing gently and spoon ricotta in dollops around the platter.

Lastly, sprinkle the lemon zest over and another pinch of salt and pepper. Serve.

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