I love broccoli. My husband and kids....not so much. I normally get upset when my family refuses to eat certain foods, but in the case of broccoli....I don't mind at all. That bubbly, cheesy, golden gratin up there was all mine. It sure is nice not to share sometimes.
In my opinion, broccoli calls for garlic so I took a basic recipe for broccoli gratin and added lots of garlic and of black pepper. I love potatoes and all, but this broccoli gratin really blows any potato gratin out of the water. I enjoyed this 10 times better than your traditional au gratin potatoes. I think this would be a terrific holiday side dish.
Garlic and Black Pepper Broccoli Gratin
Adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
Garlic & Black Pepper Bechamel Sauce:
3-1/2 tablespoons butter
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
4-1/2 cups broccoli florets
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 4-cup shallow ovenproof dish that is suitable to take directly to the table. To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add in the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then begin adding the warm milk. It will be immediately absorbed, so work quickly, whisking with one hand while adding ladlefuls of milk with the other. When the sauce seems to be smooth and not too stiff, add salt and pepper, and continue cooking even after it comes to a boil, for 5 minutes or so, mixing all the time. It should be a very thick and smooth sauce. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese (reserving some or grating extra for the top). Set sauce aside.
Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil, and cook the broccoli for a few minutes until it has softened a little but is still bright green. Lift broccoli out with a slotted spoon, letting the water drain off, and put it in the baking dish. (Save the broccoli water for cooking rice or pasta, or adding to a roast instead of water).
Place the sauce over the broccoli, leaving some florets still showing. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, and a little more black pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes and then serve hot. If necessary, broil for a minute or two to lightly brown the top.