Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath ♥

Broccoli and grape tomatoes shaped into a festive wreath by a ring mold
Today's oh-so! festive vegetable recipe:
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 ~


Hands-on time: 20 minutes? sorry, I really lost track
Time to table: maybe 60 minutes?
Serves 6

Salted water
2 pounds of fresh broccoli, crowns only
Ice bath

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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That's so neat! It does look just like a wreath. Very cool!

How incredible!! Think it would work with Benecol or maybe Benecol & butter? That is simply too good to pass up.

Ah yes, Tanna. (Offline, Tanna told me that Benecol is a cholesterol-lowering margarine.) Benecol is interesting. I also like your idea of using olive oil too, especially in the sauce where it's the lemon juice that shines through. Let me know how it goes!

Okay, I am seriously impressed by your wreath! I'm going to root around in the cellar for a ring mold now.

Alanna, I got to make this for my next potluck party! Such a pretty presentation! Thanks for the inspiration.

So creative - I love it! Looks delicious too...if I celebrated Christmas I would definitely use this idea.

A ring mold! If I bring up this post with my husband, he will inwardly cringe that I now want yet another (fun) style of kitchen dish. ;)

I love it! It's brilliant. There should be one of these on every Christmas table!

How pretty and festive!!

This is such an exciting way to present veggies. Lovely presentation, Alanna. Happy holidays to you and the family.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna