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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sautéed broccoli, tomatoes, and bacon ... and ... broccoli gratin with crispy onions

This week is "Broccoli Ten Ways in Five Days" where I am trying out all 10 recipe suggestions Real Simple Magazine highlighted for broccoli in their September 2011 issue.

The two recipes I used for today are both side dishes, but they are very different. One is sautéed in bacon grease, and the other is slowly simmered in a basic white sauce.

I was really looking forward to the Broccoli Gratin with Crispy Onions. The photo in Real Simple made it look so creamy and yummy, and as much as I hate to admit it, I really really like those freeze-dried onion thingies that are sprinkled on top. I can't say I didn't like the finished product, but I will admit this one disappointed me a little bit. The fontina cheese they asked for just doesn't have much flavor to it. I think if I was going to do this one again, I would try swiss cheese, or at least a combination. Other than being a tiny bit bland, I can't complain. The broccoli remains crunchy enough, the recipe is certainly easy to do, and those onions? Just what they always are. Yummy.

Broccoli Gratin with Crispy Onions
Cook 2 tablespoons each butter and flour in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in 2 cups whole milk. Add 1 bunch chopped broccoli (6 cups); season with salt and pepper. Simmer until tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Add 1 cup grated fontina, transfer to a baking dish, and top with 1 cup French-fried onions. Bake at 350 F until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

The other recipe, Sautéed Broccoli, Tomatoes and Bacon, wasn't amazing either. Don't get me wrong, bacon is just good. Good, good, good. But somehow, sautéing the broccoli in the bacon grease just made it taste a little bitter. Or maybe the acidic tomatoes didn't mesh well? Either way, this was a dish that was just fine to eat, but nothing I would try again. I was hoping for some kind of new BLT epiphany, and I got a decent side dish, but nothing to write home about.

Sautéed Broccoli, Tomatoes, and Bacon

Cook 4 slices bacon (cut into 1-inch pieces) in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. To the skillet, add 1 bunch broccoli (cut into florets; 6 cups) and 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved). Cook, tossing often, until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon.