I Dreamed of Broccoli


No, really I did! Of course it was only a daydream, but that daydream led to my new favorite roasted broccoli recipe that I plan on sharing with you once I get through telling my silly story. I was at the gym, on the elliptical machine, listening to Bob Marley on my new ipod shuffle (I know, I probably wasn’t moving very fast while listening to that), when all of a sudden I drifted off and started daydreaming about the broccoli in my fridge. Some friends and I had visited our little organic market the day before and although pickings were slim because we showed up later than usual, I did get a very nice looking bunch of broccoli, some carrots (dirt and greens still attached), lemons, and blood oranges. Now, why it was that I didn’t dream of the citrus fruit or the carrots that day at the gym, I’ll never know. But I just couldn’t stop thinking of that broccoli. Who daydreams about broccoli at the gym??

I had been planning on using the broccoli for either a quiche or some soup but all of a sudden I couldn’t stop thinking about eating the broccoli by itself. I just wanted to go home, steam it, and eat it. All of it. But then my broccoli daydream got a little more interesting. I started thinking about roasting it. I love roasted broccoli! But the recipe I’ve used lately for roasted broccoli includes so many heavy seasonings that you can hardly taste the vegetable. You see I usually douse it in olive oil and toss it with tons of chili powder, garlic and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix, then roast it until just tender (have to give Rachael Ray credit for that). It always turns out great but this time I was craving broccoli, not chili powder.

So there I was, still on the elliptical machine, listening to Yusuf Islam (still not moving very fast) and I start thinking that maybe instead of dumping tons of spices on the broccoli, I could add a subtler flavor by seasoning the oil with some fresh garlic. That was it! Once my brain seized on that idea, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Fresh broccoli spears tossed with garlic oil, salt and fresh ground pepper, roasted until crispy on the outside and just tender on the inside. It sounded so good that I ended up hopping off the machine a few minutes early (broccoli seems like a good excuse to cut a workout short!) and heading home. On the way home, I kept thinking about the recipe and by the time I got here, I had decided that lemon juice and parmesan cheese would make it even better without overpowering the broccoli too much.

So, I heated some oil in a saucepan, threw in a couple of smashed garlic cloves and let it cook slowly over low heat while I started washing and cutting up the broccoli. At the last minute, I decided that some heat would make the recipe even better so I threw a pinch of crushed red pepper into the garlic oil and let it cook for another minute or so.


Next, I strained the chili-garlic oil into a large mixing bowl, tossed in the broccoli flowerets, squeezed the juice of half a lemon on top, added a pinch of salt, several grinds of black pepper and tossed and tossed and tossed until all of the broccoli was coated with the oil and lemon. Then I spread it out in a single layer on a baking sheet and put it into my preheated 425 degree oven. While it was in the oven, I found my microplane and grated up a little pile of Parmigiano Reggiano.


After 10 minutes or so, the broccoli was nice and crispy on the bottom and just barely tender, which is how I happen to like it. I dumped it all back into the bowl, sprinkled the cheese on top, tossed again and then ate it. All of it.


No, it’s not normal for me to daydream about vegetables at the gym. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve been eating almost nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches for the last week or so. My body needed something green! But it’s true that for the last year now, my head is constantly filled with new recipe ideas and once I get something in my head, I can’t stop thinking about it until I write it down or try making it.

I usually end up scribbling things down on whatever piece of paper I can find. Of course I generally lose these scraps of paper before I get around to doing anything with them. But if it’s a good idea, it will usually come to me again. This broccoli recipe ended up being written on the envelope of my friend’s wedding invitation (sorry Dustin and Elisa) because for some reason, all of the 20 pads of paper that I own have migrated upstairs and been lost in the Bermuda triangle of paperwork that we like to call our home office. I usually write the recipe as I’m cooking and then while I’m eating, I read it over and make corrections. I always try making it again using my written recipe, to make sure that it works. Usually it does, but sometimes I have to revise it a few times. For something as simple as roasted broccoli, I probably don’t need to test the recipe before publishing it on here but I did it anyway because it’s really good (even for breakfast, as I found out this morning)

Oven Roasted Broccoli with Lemon, Chili-Garlic Oil and Parmesan

1 bunch of broccoli
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 t. crushed red pepper (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Heat the oil and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat. Make sure the heat is low and that the garlic is not cooking too fast. Set timer for five minutes.
3. While garlic oil is heating, wash and cut your broccoli into pieces. I cut the flowerets into halves and/or quarters and leave a couple inches of stem attached to each piece.
4. After the oil and garlic has heated for five minutes (the garlic should be turning golden brown, not burning!), add the crushed chili if using, heat for an additional minute then turn off stove.
5. Strain chili-garlic oil into a large, heat-proof mixing bowl then add the broccoli.
6. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the bowl then add a pinch of coarse salt (keep in mind that the cheese will add more saltiness) and several grinds of black pepper (if you don’t have a pepper grinder, why not??).
7. Toss everything together well with a big wooden spoon so that each piece of broccoli has a thin coating of oil.
8. Using tongs, so that the excess oil drains off, remove the broccoli to a rimmed baking sheet and spread it out in a single layer.
9. Place broccoli in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. If your oven tends to be hot, check the broccoli earlier. If you like it to be extra tender, leave it in longer. At 10 minutes, the broccoli will have started to caramelize on the bottom and may even look a little burnt but don’t worry, it will taste good!
10. While the broccoli is roasting, grate some fresh Parmesan cheese (I prefer parmigiano reggiano).
11. When the broccoli is done to your liking, immediately toss it with as much cheese as you desire and enjoy!


    1. Cindy

      Great story! How true that winter makes us dream of GREEN vegetables! I too have seen RR roast veggies on tv, I have not tried it yet, but I printed your recipe and will make it! Now…must stop off at the food Co-op for some broccoli after work.

      4:08 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    2. emon

      Hey Nicole, liking the stories a lot! Thanks for the links.

      4:28 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    3. s'kat

      I am absolutely craving broccoli after reading this!

      5:10 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    4. Brilynn

      This sounds delicious! I often think up recipes in the oddest of places, but when I’m at the gym, it’s more likely chocolate than broccoli that I’m thinking of, in which case I’d better be listening to something with a much stronger beat.

      5:12 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    5. Ms. Adventures in Italy

      I am craving broccoli too…as of now! Yum! I will definitely try this one.

      5:16 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    6. guinness girl

      Mmm! I’m trying to incorporate more vegetables in my diet, and this sounds like just the ticket! Thanks!

      5:21 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    7. Erin

      Fresh from the garden vegetables! Be still my heart. Great recipe by the way.

      5:44 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    8. shannonoz

      I’ve been looking for a good recipe for roasting broccoli, which I have not been too successful at in the past. Thanks for sharing it. I’m trying it as soon as I can get my hands on some broccoli.

      6:29 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    9. sarah

      this sounds very yummy! maybe i’ll buy some broccoli next time i’m at the grocery store and try it. i have everything at home already!

      6:47 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    10. Kathy

      Love the photo of the broccoli, lemons, carrots. The light on the lemons is fantastic ! The recipe sounds really good. I also bought broccoli and carrots at the farmer’s mkt on Saturday. I’ll try this.

      6:49 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    11. Nicole

      Cindy: Thanks! I hope you like the recipe…I think you will!

      Emon: Glad you like the stories! Remember, I only link to sites that I really like 😉

      s’kat: Well I’m glad I’m not the only one that craves it!

      Brilynn: Haha, I know! Well I hadn’t been to the gym in a while so I was easing into it 🙂

      Ms. Adventures: Let me know if you try it!

      guinness girl: Yes, I need to stay away from the grilled cheese and pizza (hard to stay away from that here!) and eat more veggies myself 🙂

      Erin: Thanks!

      Shannonoz: Try it! It’s so easy and so good!

      Sarah: I hope you do try it!

      Kathy: Thanks, I liked the lemons in that photo too! Let me know if you try it…I told Corinne about it last night so maybe she’ll try it too.

      7:04 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    12. Genie

      Nicole, I love roasting broccoli, too, but haven’t tried it with infused oil — I’m going to give that a try this week — we have a head of broccoli in the fridge. I bet it would work with cauliflower, too!

      The Inadvertent Gardener

      7:20 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    13. Patricia Scarpin


      Your post is delightful!
      When I’m on the gym the only thing that crosses my mind is “I want to go home!” 😀
      I wish I had delicious thoughts like you did with broccoli.

      This is a recipe I’ll make for Sunday lunch – I’ll tell you later.

      8:04 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    14. Shawnda

      I’m exciiiiiited. I put off going downstairs to scrounge up lunch just long enoughthat I could peek at your blog first. Thank you for lunch 🙂 I have no doubt that it’s gonna taste wonderful!

      8:10 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    15. Beth

      Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables but I’ve never tried roasting it. This recipe sounds great; I’ll try it tonight.

      8:27 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    16. Jason

      What of that brocolli antipasto we had at that place? Are you going to attempt that sort of dish?

      8:37 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    17. Sara

      That looks great – I love cooking broccoli until it gets crispy – I’ve done it with broccoli rabe and asian greens that have the little broccoli heads too.

      8:42 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    18. Nicole

      Genie: Your comment had been caught up in my spam and I just recovered it! I think that cauliflower would be great this way too! I think I’ll try it with some of the purple cauliflower that is so popular here!

      Patricia: Thanks 🙂

      Shawnda: It makes me happy that this post is making so many people excited about broccoli!

      Beth: I hope you try it! I love broccoli prepared in lots of different ways and I even like it raw but roasted broccoli is defintely one of my favorites!

      Jason: I’m gonna have to e-mail you so you can refresh my memory about the broccoli antipasto. By the way, I tried some peanut butter cap’n crunch cheesecake crust and it didn’t live up to my expectations 🙁

      Sara: The crispy parts are the best!

      8:53 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    19. Shawnda

      PS: Lunch was FABULOUS.

      9:15 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    20. Nicole

      Shawnda: I love getting feedback on my recipes! Thanks 🙂

      10:40 pm  Jan 17th, 2007
    21. Sandy

      I have everything to make this one! Looks good.

      12:21 am  Jan 18th, 2007
    22. Abby

      There is nothing that pleases my soul more than a new recipe that calls for ingredients (all of them!) that I already have at the house!

      And your photos are excellent! (Do you use a tripod? I don’t have one, but am seriously planning on a trip to a big-box store this weekend to get one.)

      2:37 am  Jan 18th, 2007
    23. Mimi

      Loved the story. I find if I think about recipes at night, while trying to fall asleep, I don’t sleep. Too stimulating.

      This recipe sounds just right: A marriage of tastes without domination of one partner.

      3:00 am  Jan 18th, 2007
    24. madchilli

      Great story! That’s an ode to the broccoli if ever I heard one! This would probably work with cauliflower too I think. I remember mum deep-frying cauliflower florets which would give a similar effect but slightly oilier. They were served simply with some soy sauce. It was delicious. Your combination of ingredients sounds equally good.

      3:34 am  Jan 18th, 2007
    25. Cheryl

      This was an amazing recipe! I like broccoli alright but never really look forward to it. After making it with your recipe- wow! I never knew broccoli could be so good! Even my husband, who is not a big fan of broccoli at all, loved it!

      4:00 am  Jan 18th, 2007
    26. Dustin

      I feel like a celebrity now when I get mentioned in any “PinchMySalt” blogs. When do we get to try some “Spremuta di Arancia Rossa”?

      10:05 am  Jan 18th, 2007
    27. Kristen

      When I’m at the gym, I’m constantly day dreaming about chocolate… broccoli would be a much better thing to dream about! This recipe, in particular, looks great.

      4:08 pm  Jan 18th, 2007
    28. Jessica

      Mmm! Can you come over and make dinner for me? Ha- I wish you were close enough…

      6:36 pm  Jan 18th, 2007
    29. Curt

      I love roasted broccoli, but I have found I like broccoflower even better, especially roasted.

      Off topic.. Nicole, if you have my email, can you email me? I have a small favor to ask!

      6:39 pm  Jan 18th, 2007
    30. veron

      I don’t like veggies much but I know they are good for me. This recipe makes me want to eat brocolli. Thanks!

      11:47 pm  Jan 18th, 2007
    31. connie

      i’m happy to see that someone else dreams of broccoli, however my dreams never come to such a beautiful conclusion!

      1:21 am  Jan 19th, 2007
    32. misslionheart

      I craved broccoli when I was pregnant with two of my four children.

      Hubs makes the best ‘Cream of Broccoli Soup’
      Must ask him to post it!

      2:07 am  Jan 19th, 2007
    33. Corinne

      I made this last night! It was a hit! I just wish you could have made it for me! =o)

      8:35 pm  Jan 19th, 2007
    34. Nicole

      Sandy: Hope you try it 🙂

      Abby: Yes, I almost always use a tripod for my food photography! I only spent 20 bucks on mine and it made a huge difference!

      Mimi: Thanks so much!

      Madchilli: Thanks! Mmmmmm…deep-fried cauliflower sounds great!

      Cheryl: I’m so glad you liked it and especially glad to hear that your husband liked it 🙂

      Dustin: I have so many blood oranges right now, stop by after work and have some juice!

      Kristin: Thanks a lot! I’m eating chocolate as I write this 😉

      Jessica: I wish I was close enough too! Hopefullly we’ll be making our way up to Norway in the next year, maybe we can get together!

      Curt: I’ll definitely try this with broccoflower too!

      Veron: I think even non-broccoli eaters might like this!

      Connie: I’m sure you come up with some great broccoli creations 🙂

      Misslionheart: I could use a good broccoli soup recipe!

      Corinne: Cool! Your mom said she made it too and your Dad said it was “good shit, maynard” 😉

      8:53 pm  Jan 19th, 2007
    35. bea at La tartine gourmande

      What a lovely funny story. I am just like you, daydreaming about food in the most unexpected places 😉

      12:04 am  Jan 20th, 2007
    36. Susan at Food "Blogga"

      What a great story! This morning I had trouble finding a spot on my table to put my coffee mug as it has been covered in notepads, recipes, and the like. Now that I’ve read this and know how good you are, it gives me hope!
      Crispy broccoli…mmmm good.

      12:29 am  Jan 21st, 2007
    37. WillowGrace

      I am so making this! I’ll be daydreaming about it till I do. I can easily eat a whole bunch of broccoli by myself.

      10:15 am  Jan 21st, 2007
    38. Laurel

      This sounds amazing! I just love your blog. …as do all my friends and co-workers.

      10:24 pm  Jan 21st, 2007
    39. Amanda P

      My Husband and I tried your broccoli recipie last night! It was so tasty we will be having it again real soon! Thank you so much

      11:30 pm  Jan 21st, 2007
    40. Nicole

      Bea: Thanks! When I wrote over 1000 words about broccoli, I figured that most people would think I was crazy! It’s so nice to find out that I’m not the only one who has these experiences 😉

      Susan: Thanks! I can totally relate to the table filled with notepads, books and recipes!

      WillowGrace: Thanks! I guess if we sat down and ate this together, we’d have to make a double batch 😉

      Laurel: Thanks so much! Glad you left a comment because I keep meaning to e-mail you and this was just the reminder I needed 🙂

      Amanda P: I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’ve been thinking about making it again this week 🙂

      10:13 am  Jan 22nd, 2007
    41. emptybelly

      Oh, totally! You guys are always welcome at our table. 🙂

      3:50 pm  Jan 22nd, 2007
    42. Laura

      This broccoli is SPECTACULAR…it was delicious. Even my veggie-hating roommates adored it. Thanks! I’ll keep coming back!

      5:08 am  Jan 23rd, 2007
    43. Confections of a Foodie Bride » Sauce of the Day: Aglio e Olio Pasta Sauce

      […] the fat by half. This dish takes no time to prepare and is very flavorful. I paired it with some oven-roasted broccoli courtesy of Pinch My Salt and rosemary bread, courtesy of me Ingredients 4 cloves garlic, minced […]

      6:07 am  Jan 23rd, 2007
    44. Confections of a Foodie Bride » Think you can’t make broccoli edible? Think again.

      […] week, Pinch My Salt featured a very tasty recipe for oven-roasted broccoli. As soon as I saw it, I literally ran downstairs to make it for lunch. Now, that wasn’t the […]

      2:01 am  Jan 24th, 2007
    45. sarah


      i tried your broccoli recipe last night. it was delicious!! i made dinner for my mom and a friend of hers and they both loved it too! i added a little more lemon juice (juice from a whole lemon instead of just half) and it really made the lemon flavor pop, but not overpower the broccoli. yum! thanks!

      10:47 pm  Jan 24th, 2007
    46. Jessica

      OMG! I just made this (minus the lemon cuz’ I didn’t have it) and it was freakin’ delicious! Thank you, Nicole! 🙂

      8:34 pm  Jan 25th, 2007
    47. alexis

      i am *not* a cook – i really don’t like it and i don’t do it very often! but once i saw your recipe, i started craving broccoli. i made it last night when we had some friends over. it was SO good, i went out and got more broccoli today and made some for dinner. in the past 24 hours, i’ve probably eaten 3 whole stalks of broccoli. SO yummy!! grazie =)

      4:56 am  Feb 5th, 2007
    48. soumya

      Was fun reading about your dreams.I love to narrate my stupid dreams to my hubby always.Hee.hee really fun to read yours.I am a great lover of broccoli.never used it by roasting in oven will give a try next time

      3:08 am  Feb 8th, 2007
    49. shivapriya

      HI Nicole
      Good one and delicious recipe. will definitely try and let you know:)

      8:38 pm  Feb 9th, 2007
    50. Cltgrace

      We are definitely broccoli lovers at my house. This is a must try recipe~ Thanks~

      10:59 pm  Feb 14th, 2007
    51. Rob K

      I will admit that I never really liked broccoli and I normally gag when I try to eat it. My weekly organic produce box had broccoli in it last week and I was determined to find a recipe and found yours when searching for “how to make broccoli taste good”. I can say that I actually bought broccoli this week for the first time ever and have made this 3 times now.


      6:12 am  Mar 13th, 2007
    52. Kyle


      2:10 am  Mar 29th, 2007
    53. Diane

      Broccali is one of the few vegetables that my youngest son will eat – he likes it covered with cheese sauce. Needless to say we eat it a lot. I’ve never roasted it before, but I’m going to try this. Thanks,

      11:47 pm  Apr 3rd, 2007
    54. Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Artichoke Soup « Pinch My Salt

      […] been wanting to roast some cauliflower ever since I wrote about the roasted broccoli. And, after seeing a few creamy cauliflower soup recipes around, I was inspired to try a creamy […]

      11:11 am  Apr 9th, 2007
    55. Loccoli, we all like broccoli « The Cleaner Plate Club

      […] to get all sophisticated with the stuff, you can try making an infused oil version, courtesy of this blogger, who’s dedicated enough to dream about broccoli at the gym. I mean, this gal is […]

      5:49 pm  Apr 27th, 2007
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      7:40 am  Nov 21st, 2007
    57. Mary

      I googled “roasted broccoli” and found this recipe. I made it for dinner tonight and it’s fabulous! I”m looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Thanks!

      2:33 pm  Feb 23rd, 2008
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      […] Every once in a while, my body lets me know when it needs to get back on the green stuff.  I was walking past the produce on my way to eggs and I was stopped in my tracks by that huge pile of beautiful green broccoli.  My body was saying, “feed me broccoli NOW!” […]

      10:53 am  Nov 3rd, 2008
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      […] Lots of vegetables. I treat meat, if we have it, as a side dish, and pile on the veggies to make for a filling meal with fewer points.  Humans absorb nutrients from vegetables better when we eat them with some fat, so now’s not the time to eat steamed broccoli with a side of salt.  My favorite way to serve it?  Baked, with lemon juice and Parmesan. […]

      8:02 am  Jan 16th, 2009
    61. Jodi

      Believe it or not I was raised with dipping my broccoli in mayonnaise. It took me a long time to like broccoli without it. Even now when I am strapped for time or lacking creativity, I go back to the tried and true heart attack veggies! I am making broccoli tonight and will try this, it sounds so yummy!!!!!

      3:20 pm  Mar 5th, 2009
    62. Jodi

      Nicole………absolutely delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!! My hubbie LOVED it. I have left over broccoli so I am going to show it off to my MIL and dad for this weekend’s dinner! Thanks for sharing!

      9:13 pm  Mar 5th, 2009
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      […] green beans from Kalyn’s Kitchen, the golden roasted cauliflower from Brownie Points, or the roasted broccoli with chili garlic oil from Pinch My Salt. Photo by Fat Free Vegan […]

      12:07 pm  Nov 23rd, 2009
    64. foodienumnum

      Made these as an appetizer last night and they were a hit! Thanks for sharing!

      5:17 pm  Mar 30th, 2011
    65. Jessica

      Just made this for dinner – so delicious, and hardly any more work than steaming the broccoli! Great call on the Parmesan – it really made the dish.

      5:19 pm  Dec 22nd, 2011
    66. What do you crave? « Are you going to eat that?

      […] But none of this explains why I spent a week craving broccoli. Though I have yet to find an answer beyond speculation in forums and blogs, I did find this delightful post from a woman who dreamed of broccoli. […]

      2:28 pm  Apr 15th, 2012
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