A classic Italian vegetable side dish – contorno – of roasted broccoli, tomatoes and olives makes a beautiful, colorful holiday or any day dish.
Given broccoli’s wonderful flavor, it’s no wonder it has been eaten since the time of the ancient Romans. A member of the cabbage family, broccoli’s name is derived from the Italian word broccolo, meaning little sprout or the flowering top of a cabbage. No matter what’s behind its name, there is universal agreement that broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. Even one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, was such a fan of broccoli that he reportedly imported seeds from Italy to plant at Monticello, his home in Virginia.
When buying broccoli look for bright green heads. The clusters should be tight. If they are too open or yellowed, it’s older and the florets are close to flowering. Plus, the main stalk and the stems should not seem woody. If you have broccoli at home that has started to flower, you can still use it to make soups or broths.
Be sure to cut the broccoli into bite size florets, which allows each piece to be coated with the extra virgin olive oil, seasonings and the lemon juice. Using the oven to prepare the vegetables softens them and brings out wonderful roasted, rich flavors of the broccoli, tomatoes and olives. The cherry tomatoes offer sweetness while the black olives add that briny flavor that makes the dish very tasty.
This cortono is great for any holiday meal or everyday meal, especially when paired with roasted herbed chicken and crusty whole-grain bread brushed with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with Italian seasoning. Buon appetito. Buone feste.
Roasted Broccoli, Tomatoes and Olives
- 4 cups bite size broccoli florets
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup pitted black olives halved
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or to taste
- 1 tsp. oregano leaves crushed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In large bowl, add broccoli, tomatoes, olives, garlic, oil and salt to taste. Gently toss until well coated. Spread on baking sheet in single layer. Bake 15 minutes.
In same bowl, combine zest, juice and oregano. Add roasted vegetables and gently toss. Serve warm.
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Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography