Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day Dinner: The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

How about a fun dinner to celebrate Earth Day? I love making this little forest for my kids!

This recipe is called The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and comes from a cookbook called, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. And yes, there are other recipes in the cookbook, but with a name like that.... :)

Mollie says she came up with this ingenious presentation of broccoli trees planted in herbed rice pilaf for two artist friends of hers that were coming to dinner. If you prepare the rice ahead, this recipe only takes ten minutes to prepare. I was a bit hesitant at first at the choice of herbs (mint and dill--I almost just scratched it and went with something more "traditional" like basil or something. Boy am I sooo glad I followed the recipe--I love the mint and dill).

2 cups brown rice
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 tablespoon butter or canola oil (plus a little extra for the pan)
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
3 tablespoons fresh mint (or 3 teaspoons dried)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/4 pound Swiss or cheddar cheese, grated
a little extra butter for the top

Cook the 2 cups of rice according to package instructions. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and set aside.

Trim the tough bottoms from the broccoli stalks and cut the tops into smallish spears of whatever size suits you. These will be your trees.

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and salt and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and the lemon juice and saute for about 2 minutes longer. Stir in the rice, some black pepper and cayenne to taste along with the optional ingredients. Taste to correct salt, if necessary, and spread in the prepared pan. Stir in the cheese and herbs.

Now the fun part. Arrange the broccoli upright in the rice, and, if desired, drizzle with melted butter. Cover loosely with foil and bake just until heated through (15 -20 minutes). Serve right away.

Have a happy Earth Day dinner!


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