Although George Bush openly proclaims his hatred of this vegetable, I personally think broccoli has a lot to offer. But then, it hasn’t been shoved down my throat from childhood, so I really can’t attack Bush for his comments this time. Apart from the fact that it is a healthy vegetable, as all vegetables are, packed with vitamins A, C and folate, it is much tastier than other members of its family, the cabbage and the cauliflower, which, frankly, do nothing to excite my taste buds. Broccoli is actually Mediterranean in origin, probably from Italy, more precisely Calabria, where its alternative name is ‘calabrese’. It has a much more delicate flavour than cauliflower, but like the cauliflower, you eat the clusters of edible flower buds or florets. It is usually very tender and, therefore, takes little time to cook. Broccoli is excellent steamed in a colander over boiling water and served with a tempering of garlic and a dash of oyster or soya sauce or steamed and tossed cold with a creamy, cheesy dressing. It takes well to a European table as an accompaniment and is wonderful in Oriental stirfries. Take care with storage. Broccoli turns yellow very quickly after plucking and must always be wrapped tightly in cling film and stored in the fridge.
A mousse (pronounced ‘moos’) is a light, frothy dish, usually eaten cold. It can be sweet or savoury and is set in a mould with beaten egg whites, cream and sometimes gelatin. Broccoli mousse is a favourite centre piece of mine at lunches and on buffets. It satisfies the vegetarian lust for something exotic, creamy and delicious and can be made well in advance.
Broccoli (choose small florets with tender stems) - 1/2 kg
Paneer - 1 cup
Hung curd - 2 tbsp
Cream - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Gelatin - 2 tbsp
Pimentos - 1 tin, or sliced red pepper - 1
Stock - 1 cup (made from a cube, if all else fails)
Salt and pepper to tasteMethod:
Steam the broccoli in a colander over boiling water until tender. Reserve a few florets. Refresh them with ice. Chop the rest. Soak the gelatin in the lemon juice and half the stock, and heat until the gelatin is absorbed. Leave aside to cool. Put all the ingredients, except the pimentos, through a blender or food processor in batches. You can blend it as rough or as smooth as you like. Cut the pimentos into juliennes (long strips) and add these by hand to the mixture. If using red pepper, sauté in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Reserve some for decoration. Grease a jelly mould with a little oil and pour in the mixture. Chill for two hours. To serve, unmould the mousse and decorate with the remaining broccoli and pimentos or peppers. The mousse is delicious with whole-wheat bread or melba toast. It can also be made in advance and kept in either the fridge or freezer.
Write to Karen Anand at email@example.com