Saturday, June 16, 2012

Melissa Abbott's version of the classic Enchanted Broccoli Forest made famous by Mollie Katzen

Enchanted Broccoli Forest before Baking
I have always loved Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forect Recipe, from her cookbook of the same name, popular in the 1990's. I have made this dish to ooooh's and aahhh's for over 20 years. It is great for a big crowd and since it is a rice pilaf plus a vegetable, it kills two birds with one stone. Children love this dish, your table really does seem magical as we eat the enchanted forest of broccoli! I made this once for an event with over 100 people with great success. It is the perfect party dish because you can make it up in advance and then pop it in the oven right before serving. It is mostly all cooked already and really you are just looking to heat through and through and melt the cheese a little bit.

My Broccoli Garden in Gloucester, MA
I have a backyard garden at my home in Gloucester, MA and this year I have 18 Broccoli plants. The great thing about growing broccoli is that it keeps producing for months. I have had plants produce from May to November. The very first crop yields the larger heads of broccoli and afterwards additional little shoots keep springing up as long as you keep picking the shoots and don't let the beds flower. Once they flower with tiny yellow flowers the plants are finished for the season. The great thing about the broccoli plant is that it just keeps on giving and giving. This spring, I have a bumper crop! Amazingly large heads have formed. I dusted off my Enchanted Broccoli Forest Recipe and made a few changes to Mollies original recipe.

Melissa Abbott's Version of the Enchanted Broccoli Forest
from the wilds of East Gloucester, Cape Ann

This recipe makes 2 casseroles. One to cook right away and another to freeze for another time. If you are having a big party bake off both, either way, you'll be glad to have the two casseroles

2 greased casserole dishes, glass pyrex pans or enameled cast iron pans are good.

                                         2 cups brown or white rice

4 cups water


Cook the rice in advance in a tightly covered pot by bringing 4 cups of salted water to a boil and adding the rice. Stir with a fork (only a couple of times doing it more makes the rice too starchy), then turn down the pot to low and cover tightly. You can cook rice according to package instructions but mostly short grain brown rice takes 45 minutes and Basmati brown rice and white rices take about 25 minutes. Once cooked, set aside.

2-3 large Vidalia Onions chopped
Saute Onions in Olive Oil
Several Tbsps. Olive Oil

Fresh Herbs 
    Fresh Spinach Leaves

    Several Bunches of Fresh Herbs of your        
    choice, I used Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Mint

    2 cups grated cheese (I use a cheddar &      Parmesan Mix)

   Salt & Pepper

   1 Lime juiced
Chopped Herbs

   2/3 cup chopped almonds

 1 1/2 lbs Fresh Broccoli lightly steamed

Saute the chopped onions in olive oil until they turn clear. Add Salt, Pepper, and Juice of 1 Lime.

Lightly Steam Broccoli florets in boiling water for 2 minutes and then rinse right away with cold water. You want them to be crisp.

Chop your herbs in a food processor and add to clarified onions.

Put grated cheese, onion/herb mixture, and rice in a large bowl

and mix throughly. Turn the rice pilaf mixture into two greased casserole pans.

Chop some almonds and place that on top of the rice pilaf

Trim and insert Your Broccoli Spears into the rice pilaf mixture to look like a mini forrest.

Cover with Foil and Bake for 30 minutes in 350-375 degree oven before serving. You can drizzle on some extra butter over the Broccoli Forest if desired.  Enchanting!!