Broccoli & grape tomatoes formed into a wreath shape, topped with a lemon butter sauce. A perfect vegetable for Christmas dinners.
(Okay so before I tell the backstory, is anyone as amazed as I how much just broccoli and tomatoes really do look like a wreath?!)
Before Christmas awhile back, my friends' mother (we'll call her Mrs. K) called, asking for help with a recipe. She'd seen it in a magazine -- or wait, maybe a cookbook? -- and was desperate to find it again. She remembered the basics, broccoli and tomatoes in a wreath shape. But what would bind them? We couldn't think, not eggs, no, and certainly not gelatin. Cheese maybe? She thought not.
So Mrs K returned to her hunt. Many days and magazine piles later, at last she found her recipe. "It's just butter," she said exultantly. "Do you really think that just butter can hold it all together?"
It can. And this festive vegetable dish -- buttery yes, but still definitely a vegetable -- is absolutely delicious. The ingredient list is short and it's way less fussy than it looks. It does call for a ring mold -- check your grandmothers' attics for her old "salad form", that's where mine came from, or perhaps the Goodwill or a thrift shop. No luck? I think a round cake pan with a bowl in the center is worth a try, too. Do try to use a shallow cake pan, however, so that it can be inverted onto a plate without upsetting the broccoli.
NO RING MOLD? NO ENERGY TO FUSS? STILL LOVE the FESTIVE LOOK? Just cook the broccoli and tomatoes as directed, then put into a shallow casserole dish. Cover and warm through. I think it'll be just fine.
Shoot for a generous pound of just the very most tender broccoli florets. Even buying broccoli crowns, I started with two+ pounds of broccoli to yield a pound+ of florets. Luckily the stems and stalks make a great broccoli soup.
The butter doesn't 'bind' the broccoli as much as lightly contain it. Be gentle.
Next time I will plate it differently, perhaps on a bed of rice? so that the buttery sauce has something to soak into. As you can see, it just pooled on the plate, not so prettily.
It's lovely hot, but because the pieces are small, can't hold the heat long. Luckily, it's still good at room temperature so this would work for a buffet, too though of course the 'effect' will be smashed with the first scoop.
Mrs K is gone now but her wreath recipe is just one more reason to remember her ever so warmly. (Hello Mr K! Hi C&C&E! Hugs J&K!)
FROM the CREASE of MY RIGHT EYE This is the name of the event being hosted this month by Danielle from Habeas Brulee, celebrating all things layered and stuffed and this broccoli wreath is my contribution to the creativity in its midst. Danielle, you can perhaps appreciate that the broccoli is stuffed and pressed into a ring mold?
~ more Red & Green Warm Spinach Salad ~
~ more Spinach & Artichoke Gratin ~
~ more broccoli recipes ~
~ one year ago this week Celery with Tomato, Olives & Capers, perfect 'spareness' amid holiday excess ~
~ two years ago today Italian Wedding Soup ~
BROCCOLI & TOMATO HOLIDAY WREATH
Time to table: maybe 60 minutes?
2 pounds of fresh broccoli, crowns only
Trim the broccoli, using just the green broccoli tops, cut into bite-size pieces. Drop into boiling salted water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh in a large bowl of ice water until just cool. Drain thoroughly.
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
6 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar (don't skip, it makes a difference!)
Salt & pepper to taste
In a skillet, melt the butter on MEDIUM until shimmery. Add the tomatoes and warm through but don't allow to pop. Remove from heat, stir in sugar and season.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used about 4, it was plenty)
Juice of half a lemon (about a tablespoon or two)
In a small saucepan, melt butter, then add lemon juice. Keep warm but don't allow to boil.
Preheat oven to 350F. Very gently, stir together broccoli and tomatoes. Arrange in a ring mold, distributing tomatoes throughout as best possible. Press gently into the mold with the back of a spoon. Cover with foil (I forgot this step, it didn't seem to make a difference) and place into a larger pan. (You could make ahead this far.) Fill the outer pan with boiling water about halfway up the ring mold. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through. Remove the ring mold from the larger pan. Place a serving plate on top of the ring mold. With one quick motion, invert the ring mold onto the serving plate, jiggling gently if needed to release the broccoli. Tuck any loose florets back into the wreath. Drizzle with the butter sauce and serve immediately.
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