Back in the day, I watched Mario Batali on Food Network make some broccoli soup that was classically Italian using just olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and cheese as the base, and water to make a broth for the vegetable. I started cooking it that way and loved it. Like many recipes, this one was a variation using that basic method because I had some left over cauliflower and broccoli in the fridge. I have always stir fried or steamed broccoli in the past preferring it kind of crunchy. I learned from watching Mario that most Italian cooks prefer their vegetables well cooked, and checking back with my older sister learned that my mom used to cook like that, but heard that it was "more healthy" to minimally steam or fry your vegies. That may be so, but you must try this dish as per my directions if only once. You may never go back.
Broccoli Cauliflower Soup for two. (Note: This is really more like vegetables in broth than a soup. It's delicious whatever the hell you call it!)
Makes 2 servings
Ingredients: 1 stalk of Broccoli, 1/2 head of cauliflower, 3 cloves of garlic minced, 2 tsp. red pepper flakes, 4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil (for sauteing), 3-4 tbs. of your best quality extra virgin olive oil (for finishing) 1/3 cup grated parmiagiano reggiano, 2 cups water
Procedure: Cut the broccoli head into individual florets. Using a peeler, remove the tough, outer skin of the stalk and slice it into thin rounds. Cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces as well. Heat your skillet over med high to high heat with the 4 tbs. of oil till shimmering. Dump in the garlic and pepper flakes. They should immediately begin to sizzle. Add the vegetables to the pan and salt them immediately. Stir to coat them with the oil and add the water to the pan. Cover the pan and let the water come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook covered for 10 minutes or more until it is easy to mash a broccoli stalk round with the side of your wooden spoon and the liquid in the pan has reduced to about a cup. At that point, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the finishing oil and half the cheese. Serve with the remaining cheese on top.