There are two kinds of people I’m just never going to agree with:
People who don’t like leftovers.
People who don’t like vegetables.
If you identify as one of those types, we can probably be friends, but you may not want to come eat at my house. If you identify with both of those statements, well, we can still be friends but I’m going to judge you, harshly.
I won’t address the issues with leftovers today, but I do want to talk about vegetables. If you say you don’t like them, then the only explanation I can think of is that you are just doing them wrong. Why do people hate vegetables so much? Why don’t they get more love? Sure, this may be the era of superfoods like kale, and ok, we’ve discovered how to turn cauliflower into almost anything, but I want everyone to be excited about vegetables for what they are, not just trying to rationalize eating them for wellness or using them as virtuous replacements for other ingredients.
Vegetables are delicious! I mean, truly, the flavor and variety is so astonishing! Why can’t they get more starring roles?
I think about this a lot whenever I go out to eat. The meat dishes on the menu sound good, sure, but I always find myself drawn to the appetizers or vegetable sides, where the more interesting things are happening. Oh, you roasted a chicken and paired it with mashed potatoes? Yawn. I can do that. You turned broccoli into tacos? HOW DID YOU DO THAT?? I MUST TRY IT!
When I was in London this past Winter I went to dinner at Gunpowder, an Indian restaurant on the South Bank near Tower Bridge. I ordered the mustard fish and the mustard broccoli (I guess I just like mustard?). The fish was incredible, full of flavor and steamed to perfection in a banana leaf. But it was the broccoli that grabbed my attention. What I had expected to be a simple plate of grilled veggies came out as a pile of thick, charred broccoli stems arrayed atop an orangey, spiced sauce and accompanied by a steak knife. A steak knife! Anytime you get a knife with your veggies, you know it’s gonna be fun. I think the man sitting next to me agreed. We both uttered a “whoa” when the server placed the broccoli in front of me, and looked at each other in shared admiration of broccoli asserting itself in such a way.
The knife turned out to be necessary for breaking down the florets, which were large enough that I felt like I was doing cruciferous butchery. The sauce revealed itself to be a tikka masala-ish mixture that paired so well with the smoky, charred broccoli, I was kind of astounded that I’ve only ever had it with chicken. Why does it never get paired with veggies? It’s the perfect compliment. I mean, especially for cauliflower, which just tastes like whatever you add to it, right? But the broccoli added just enough of a bitter contrast to really counter the rich, creamy sauce. I loved it so much I knew I’d be adding it to my home repertoire of main dishes.
And here we are! I roasted the broccoli for simplicity and because I don’t have a grill. You can finish it under the broiler if you really want that charred, smoky flavor. The sauce is a fairly basic tikka masala, and served with a side of rice, makes a really full, rich meal for a weeknight that nevertheless won’t weigh you down. I think the sauce would also be excellent on it’s own to have in your arsenal, for nights when you’ve got some meat, tofu, or really anything extra sitting around that needs a little help (see? Leftovers! Maybe I am addressing that issue today).
Roasted Mustard Broccoli & Tikka Masala Sauce
For the Mustard Roasted Broccoli:
2 small heads broccoli, broken into florets (or cut into thick steaks)
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
olive oil, plus more for pan
1 tbs whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp amchoor powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
For the Tikka Masala sauce:
3 tbs ghee (or butter)
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 cardamom pods
3 dried chiles de arbol
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
Make the tikka masala sauce: heat ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, tomato paste, cardamom pods and chiles, and cook until onions are softened a bit, about 5 minutes. Add in the spices and salt and cook another 4 minutes, until spices start to darken and turn fragrant.
Add in the tomatoes and their juice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and smashing the tomatoes against the sides of the pot with your spoon to break them up as they cook.
Add in the heavy cream and cilantro and stir everything together. Simmer 40 minutes, until starting to thicken.
Remove sauce from heat and blend until smooth, using a blender or immersion blender. Return to the heat and simmer another 20 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, make the broccoli: heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil, then blanch the broccoli florets, two minutes, until bright green. Drain and dry with paper towels.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mustard, paprika, amchoor, cumin and turmeric with enough olive oil to form a thick marinade, about 2 tablespoons. Add the blanched broccoli to the bowl and toss to coat everything thoroughly.
Grease a rimmed baking sheet and spread the broccoli in an even layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes until crispy and starting to char at the tips (you can finish under the broiler if you want a little more char).
To serve, Spoon a thick layer of the sauce in the bottom of a serving dish and arrange the broccoli on top. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.