Now that I've got you singing, let me introduce you to a new way to play with broccoli! A quick blanch and a healthy dip make broccoli a tween's best friend. Blanching is a good skill to have - and is easy to do in the microwave! It allows your broccoli, or other vegetable, to retain a crunchy texture, but to mute the "raw" flavor slightly.
1-2 heads of broccoli
Large microwave-safe casserole dish, 3/4 full of lightly salted tap water
A second bowl of icewater
Cut your broccoli into long-stemmed florets like this. We had Sparky's friend, Wilbur, to help us with this step today.
Put your first casserole dish in the microwave and bring the water to a boil by microwaving in 1-minute increments (be careful not to superheat your water - you can put a wooden skewer in it to ensure that the water boils properly. In theory, the minerals and added salt should prevent superheating, but please be careful.) Please supervise kids with large containers of boiling water!
Put it carefully on the counter and add just enough broccoli to cover the surface of the water, submerging it thoroughly with a slotted spoon or spider. If you aren't getting an immediate color change, you may want to return the broccoli and water to the microwave for 30 seconds of heating. As soon as your broccoli turns a deep, vibrant green, which should take about a minute to a minute and a half, remove it to the bowl of icewater. Repeat until all the broccoli is in the icewater, and then drain and set aside in the refrigerator while you make your dressing.
I wanted a yogurt-based dressing for our broccoli mops that didn't add a lot of unneccessary fat, and I found it at the lovely blog White On Rice Couple. We've since made this several times, and found that while adults enjoyed the 'burn' of the garlic and shallot, the dressing was more kid-friendly if these flavors were muted a bit, so I toned those down. Fortunately for me, fresh oregano seems to love Illinois summers, and I had plenty to work with from my garden.
1/2 a medium shallot (original recipe calls for a whole)
1 small garlic clove, peeled (original recipe calls for 2)
1 cup nonfat yogurt (Greek if you want a very thick dip, regular if you want something like salad dressing; we used regular)
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (or about a 2 oz piece, cut into dice)
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons lime juice
1-2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper (we forgot this and didn't miss it)
1 teaspoon of sea/kosher salt, or more to taste
Put the ingredients in a blender jar (good Mason jars have measurement markings on the side, you can measure right into them!) and blend until smooth and green. Pour into ramekins for easy individual dipping, dip your "mops" and enjoy!