Fall colours are one thing. But what really inspires me about the season are its vegetables. Sturdy greens like cabbage and broccoli seem to pique my imagination — for cooking and for whimsy.
Winter vegetables are mounded with straw to keep them cozy in zero-ish temperatures while they sweeten. Isn’t that a nice thing to think about? My grandpa hates soup because he ate cabbage boiled in thin broth every day as a child. That’s a memory that will always stick with me.
Richness and a warming zip of pickled chilies are what make this broccoli a dish for cold weather. I would serve it as an appetizer. Feel free to shave on some parmesan cheese too, if you like.
*adapted from chef Emma Hearst
2 heads broccoli
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped pickled hot peppers (look for these in Italian grocers)
2 tbsp. + more, to taste, pickling liquid from peppers
1 3/4 cups glutinous rice flour
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
extra pickled hot peppers, for garnish
canola oil (for frying)
salt and pepper
Clean and trim the broccoli into florets.
Blend the mayonnaise with the peppers and liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. That’s your aioli.
Pour a few inches of canola oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed pot. For safety, the oil should only come about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the pot. Heat the oil to 360F.
Mix the rice flour and water in a bowl until smooth. That’s your tempura batter.
Coat the broccoli florets with the batter, then set gently into the hot oil. Fry until the batter is crispy (they will not brown). Drain the florets on a towel. Immediately sprinkle with a generous amount of salt.
Place the broccoli on a platter, then top with the aioli and the basil. Garnish with extra pickled peppers.