I’m a cookbook junkie. I have rows and stacks and piles of them all over the house. I’ve actually had to come up with ways to decorate with them because I lack sufficient shelf space. Thankfully, most cookbooks are pretty, so it wasn’t that difficult.
When I cook, I brainstorm a bit about the kind of meal I want to play with. Usually this is heavily influenced by the season, but since we moved to Kentucky where I have access to loads of locally-grown fruits and veggies, I’m just as motivated by the urge to try out fresh produce I’ve never cooked with before. Once I pick a new veggie to experiment with, I browse my cooking library for relevant recipes and take inspiration from their ingredients and techniques. I make some tweaks, gather materials and get to work.
You may be shocked to find out that my never-before-used vegetable this time around was broccoli. Of course I’ve had broccoli before — in salads, and as a side. But in salads it was always raw, and as a side I always used frozen microwaveable bags. I had never actually cooked fresh broccoli.
It’s like the movie Braveheart. Everyone who watches movies has seen Braveheart, and I’ve had a million and ten opportunities to see it too, but I never have. OH, the looks of disgust I’ve endured because of this fact (Sarah, I’m talking to you haha)! Similarly, everyone who cooks has cooked with fresh broccoli, so to avoid further shame, I finally decided to quit dragging my feet.
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is one of those beautiful cookbooks that I’ve had an easy time decorating my house with. I purchased it a few weeks ago and had been flipping through page after page of gorgeous vegetarian food photography when I saw a broccoli and gorgonzola pie that made my jaw drop. There it was! My very first “real” broccoli recipe. And gorgonzola just so happens to be a favorite cheese of mine. Perfection!
The recipe also called for fresh tarragon, chives, leeks, cream and puff pastry crust. Yes, it’s as heavenly as it sounds.
I don’t think I’ll ever revisit the frozen bag-o-broccoli again. The vibrant flavor and soft crunch of fresh cooked broccoli just can’t be beat. Combined with a wonderful chive-, leek- and herb-infused cream, topped with a salty, rich gorgonzola, and all encased in a flaky, buttery pastry crust, this recipe is a total win.
I’ll definitely be trying more recipes from Plenty in the coming weeks. It’s a jackpot for creative and [mostly] healthy ways to treat your lovely fresh produce. I’ve got my eye on a goat cheese soufflé with poached peaches for next time. Yum!
Have you cooked from Plenty? What are your favorite veggie-based recipes for the summer months and what cookbooks do you recommend? I’d love to hear what’s going on in your kitchen lately! Please share in the comments below!
Broccoli + Gorgonzola Pie
Slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty“.
1 lb. puff pastry
2 broccoli heads (1 1/2 lbs total), cut into florets
2 tbsp. butter
3 to 4 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup chopped tarragon
3 tbsp. grainy mustard
7 oz. Gorgonzola (I used crumbles, but the original recipe calls for a whole piece cut into medium chunks)
1 egg, beaten
(The following instructions are taken directly from the Plenty cookbook. My tweaks and notes will be in brackets.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry into a circle that is 1/8 inch thick and large enough to line a 10-inch loose-bottomed tart pan [I used a regular stoneware tart pan and served it directly from there. I also used the puff pastry sheets that come 2 to a box, and once they thawed, I divided them up (as they're already scored into thirds) and used 4 sections for the crust bottom, and the remaining 2 sections for the lid]. Line the pan and trim off the excess pastry. Roll out the remaining pastry into a thinner disc, large enough to cover the surface of the pie, and lay it on a plate. Place both shell and lid in the freezer for 10 minutes. [I dusted the pastry with flour while rolling out the sheets to prevent sticking.]
Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill it with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light brown. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven to bake for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the shell is golden. Leave to cool down.
While the tart shell is baking, prepare the filling. Cook the broccoli florets in a large pan of boiling water for about 2 minutes, or until tender but still firm. Drain in a colander, rinse well with cold water and leave to dry.
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the leeks on gentle heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft but not colored. Add the cream, water, chives, tarragon, mustard, 1 tsp. salt [I skipped the salt because the gorgonzola is already pretty salty] and some black pepper. Stir well and remove from the heat.
To assemble, spread the leek mixture over the bottom of the pastry case. Scatter the broccoli on top and gently press into the leek mix. Dot with the Gorgonzola. Brush the rim of the tart case with the beaten egg and place the pastry lid over the filling. Press down firmly around the edge to attach the lid to the case. Trim off any of the lid that hangs over the edge.
Glaze the lid with beaten egg and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool a little before removing from the pan. [I didn't remove it at all, just let it cool for 10 minutes and then served from the dish!]