BROCCOLI IS A NATIVE of Southern Europe and it was first introduced to the cuisines of France and Britain at the start of the eighteenth century.
In italian the word broccoli means cabbage sprouts or flowers; but broccolettes, meaning little branches, is the name by which the vegetable is sold on the colourful market stalls of Italy. ‘Alla Vegana Parmigiana’ means that the dish contains vegan Parmesan cheese.
It also uses vegan mozzarella cheese, and a tomato sauce that is fragrant with basil.
So I hope you enjoy making it and it delights your taste buds as much as it did mine. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know how it turned out and if you loved it.
PREPARATION TIME: 45 MINUTES
COOKING TIME: 20 MINUTES
PRE-HEAT OVEN TO 200°C
INGREDIENTS FOR FOUR
- 1 large head of broccoli
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil (or you can substitute the oil with water)
- 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 4 tomatoes, skinned
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) chopped fresh basil or 10ml (2 teaspoons) dried basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100 – 125g vegan mozzarella cheese,finely sliced
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) grated vegan Parmesan cheese
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) dry white breadcrumbs
- Wash the broccoli head and break it into even-sized-spears.
- Put the spears in a steamer. Cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid and steam for about 20 minutes until the broccoli is just tender but still crunchy.
- Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan ,(if you are plant-based like me, then you can fry your onions in a little water instead of the oil.) add the onion and garlic, and fry gently for 5 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook, stirring, until the mixture forms a thick sauce, moistening with a little water if necessary. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Arrange the steamed broccoli in an ovenproof dish and pour the tomato sauce over it. Arrange slices of vegan mozzarella cheese on top. Sprinkle the dish with the grated Vegan Parmesan cheese, and then top with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs.
- Bake the mixture, uncovered, in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes until browned and bubbling. Serve hot in the same dish.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS The dish makes a good first course to be followed by pasta. It can also be served as an accompaniment to grilled vegetables.
VARIATION Instead of broccoli use brinjals, cut up into slices.