Tracy O'Grady is not the kind of chef who likes to send home cooks running for special ingredients. For the vegetarian dish she created for the Food section, she kept the ingredient list and the cooking time short.
The 40-year-old chef is an avowed omnivore, but she has limited the amount of meat she consumes. "At home, I've been trying to eat at least two meatless meals for dinner during the week," she said while tossing a big pan of garlic slices in hot oil last week in the kitchen at Willow in Arlington. (Her husband, restaurant partner Brian Wolken, is not as interested in that regimen, she admits.)
There's nothing Asian about this stir-fry, as you'll see. The chickpeas add enough heft to make this a satisfyingly filling main course, but O'Grady says the sauce and vegetables would taste great over pasta as well. Perhaps we'll see this featured in the vegetarian cookbook the chef wants to write.
Willow sommelier Alison Christ recommends serving the dish with a sangiovese such as the 2005 Verbena Rosso di Montalcino.
- 1 pound whole broccoli or florets
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 ounces canned chickpeas, drained
- Kosher salt (optional)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
If using whole broccoli, separate it into individual stalks and discard their tough ends. If using broccoli florets, set aside.
Cut the garlic into very thin slices. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the tomato juice. Place the tomatoes on a cutting board and cut them into fairly thin strips.
Heat a large skillet (not nonstick) over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add 2 tablespoons of the oil; it will immediately scatter around the skillet. Add the garlic slices and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, constantly stirring or shaking the skillet, until most of them are golden brown; do not let them burn.
Add the tomato strips and reduce the heat to medium; cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, then add the reserved tomato juice and the drained chickpeas. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Add the butter, if using, and stir to mix well; a pale red ragu (sauce) will form. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm. (If the ragu becomes too thick, add water as necessary.)
Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan or skillet (not nonstick) over high heat; when it is very hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil (again, the oil will scatter). Immediately add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan or skillet. The edges of the crowns or florets will begin to brown; that is okay. Season with the crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste, if using. Add 1/4 cup of the water and quickly cover; let the broccoli stalks steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. If using the florets, steam for 2 to 3 minutes. (Add the remaining 1/4 cup water in increments if the liquid in the pan or skillet evaporates too quickly).
The broccoli will be bright green; remove from the heat and uncover. To serve, divide the tomato-chickpea ragu among individual plates, then pile the broccoli on top. Serve hot.
From executive chef Tracy O'Grady of Willow restaurant in Arlington.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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