Blasted Broccoli Bowl

Emily is spending the night tonight, helping with the kids, keeping me company while Yancey is at fire school.  One of the many good things about her being here on Mondays is that I get to cook for her.  She is one of my most appreciative audiences and has a special place in her heart for my salad dressings.  This little dish, as you'll see, sports a dressing.

My plan for tonight had been to make a chicken spinach salad with sesame dressing.  Being as it almost SNOWED today, though, I was in the mood for something hot.  The 70 degree day we had last week seems like a sick joke at this point.

So an idea started forming about a rice bowl instead.  I had some broccoli in the fridge and had just bought a beautiful bunch of mint at McPherson's Produce.  I am the luckiest girl in the world to have lived near that produce stand for 12 years.  It's kind of a crap shoot sometimes, but if you're flexible, it never disappoints.  

One of my favorite, favorite things is any meal that combines hot and cold elements, like Vietnamese noodles or a salad with grilled vegetables.  I also have perfected the lazy art of putting greens underneath, in-between, or on top of almost everything.  If I have a bin of baby spinach in the fridge (as I almost always do), it works overtime.  Fiberlicious.

You could do so many other things with this recipe--use tofu, fish, or shrimp instead of chicken, use baby bok choy, green beans, or asparagus instead of broccoli.  The important thing is the layering--cold greens on bottom (spinach, romaine, cabbage, arugula etc.), a mound of hot rice, and then other yummies on top.

As I was at the stove, putting the finishing touches on dinner, Wyatt said, "Mom!  Look!  I'm setting up for your food blog!"  He had stood his school notebook up on the table, put a cluster of grapes at its base, and moved the bottle of Hoisin sauce into the frame.  What a lamb.  I hope I'm not damaging any vital developments in his young brain with my food obsessions.

Blasted Broccoli Bowl

(serves four)

2 chicken breasts, marinated in 1/4 c. soy sauce, 1 Tb. sesame seeds, 1 Tb. minced fresh ginger, and 2 Tb. vegetable oil for about an hour, or as long as you're able 

4 c. washed greens (spinach, romaine, cabbage, arugula, or a mixture)

4 c. hot cooked rice

4 c. broccoli florets tossed with 2 ts. soy sauce, 2 ts. olive oil, and 2 ts. sesame seeds

handful fresh mint, roughly chopped

For dressing (double if you want leftovers):

1 Tb. soy sauce

2 Tb. sugar

1 Tb. minced fresh ginger

1 minced garlic clove

4 Tb. rice wine vinegar

juice of one lime

1 Tb. sesame seeds 

shakes of red pepper flakes

2 green onions, finely sliced

1 Tb. sesame oil

1/4 c. vegetable oil

Turn oven to 450 and turn on your grill (or whatever method you're using for your chicken)

Make dressing--combine all ingredients except for oils and whisk well.   Add oils slowly and whisk until emulsified.  TASTE as you go!  My dressings are notoriously and maddeningly approximate.  One of my favorite tricks is to add more salt if you think the dressing is too oily. Salt absorbs oil.

Grill chicken breasts until tender, about 8 minutes per side.  Let rest for a few minutes before slicing into chopstick-friendly pieces.

Blast your broccoli.  Put a baking sheet into a 450 degree oven and let it heat up for a few minutes.  Toss broccoli with soy sauce, olive oil, and sesame seeds and throw it onto the hot pan and cook until it starts getting browned and crispy in places--about 10 minutes.  Give the pan a good shake a couple times.

Assemble your bowls--greens on bottom, rice, chicken and broccoli, then a drizzle of dressing with a shower of mint over the top.  Serve with sriracha and hoisin sauces on the side, if you like.