It's odd that people will gladly eat cauliflower but wince at the thought of eating broccoli. As with other brassica's like Brussels sprouts and cabbage, I do believe that it is bad cooking (boiling until gray!) that leads people to have such negative thoughts towards these vegetables.
Broccoli is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals - just one serving contains over 130% of your daily Vitamin C requirements. There's also Vitamins A, B5, B6, E, K, Folate, Niacin, Riboflavin and Thiamin. To ensure as many nutrients remain, it's best to steam rather than boil.
The dish I've made is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi's rather delicious broccoli and gorgonzola pie.
I've foresaken the puff pastry for filo and Gorgonzola has been replaced with another favourite Italian, Taleggio.
Taleggio is a washed-rind cheese, stinky and soft, it manages to balance flavour and creaminess with ease. It may be pungent but its flavour is never over-powering. Feel free to substitute your own favourite cheese.
Broccoli, Leek and Taleggio Roll
8 sheets Filo pastry
finely grated Parmesan
2-3 large leeks, tops removed, sliced thickly
2 medium heads broccoli
1 tablespoon cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
finely grated Parmesan
Prepare the broccoli:
One of my favourite parts of the broccoli is in fact the stem so please don't throw it away. It has such a sweet flavour and a lovely texture that even in larger stems where the outer layer may be a bit tough, peel it away and savour that tender core. If you are using smaller heads then you won't need to peel it.
Cut the stem into bite sized pieces and steam for a minute or two - you aren't looking to cook them through just to give them a start.
Cut the rest of the heads into florets and steam these for a minute.
Set this aside.
Make the filling:
This needs to be done first and allowed to cool completely before using.
Place a good knob of butter in a pan over a low heat - when melted add in the sliced leeks. Cook very slowly and without colouring until soft.
Add a tablespoon of cream, increase the heat slightly and stir well until the cream reduces and thickens. Season sparingly with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper before removing from the heat.
Sprinkle in a little grated Parmesan and then tip in the broccoli pieces and gently toss through. Let this cool completely before proceeding.
Make the filo roll:
Lay a sheet of filo on a large sheet of baking paper. Brush the surface generously with melted butter and a scattering of grated Parmesan. Top with another sheet of filo. Repeat the process until all 8 sheets are used.
Place half the filling evenly along the length of filo - offset it from the long edge closest to you by a couple of inches and by an inch or so from the shorts ends. Dot with cubes of Taleggio and then cover with the remaining filling. Finish off with some more Taleggio cubes.
Brush the sheet with butter, fold in the sides and brush the now exposed folds with butter. Take the long edge and wrap it around the filling until it has just covered it. Stop and brush the length of the roll with more butter - continue to roll, stopping to ensure the exposed pastry is well coated with butter. When you reach the end, tuck in ends and position the roll in the centre of your baking paper. Brush with more butter and finish off with a light sprinkle of Parmesan.
Make sure that the ends are well buttered too.
Bake in a preheated 170ºC/340ºF oven until golden - about 30 minutes. I can tell you as it cooks you'll have such a wonderful aroma coming from your kitchen - you might be confused and think you have Cauliflower cheese baking in the oven.
Let it sit for a few minutes before turning it out onto your serving dish.
Cut into generous slices - you'll have pockets of softened cheese intermingled with the creamy base of leeks and soft textured broccoli. It truly has a wonderful mouth-feel and that crisp pastry provides a lovely counter point.
We enjoyed this with a salad of heirloom tomatoes and basil - a seriously good offering that would put a simple on the face of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.