Monday, December 17, 2007

Spicy Orange Broccoli

You control the heat level of this recipe by selecting which variety of hot pepper to use, and how many. Cooking time is very short when you use your microwave, and there's minimal prep time, too, making this spicy recipe an easy side dish for the busy holiday season (serves 4 to 6).

1 to 1 1/2 lb fresh broccoli
1 medium sweet bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
1 to 2 hot peppers of your choice (jalapeno, habanero, serrano or other variety)
2 Tbs butter or margarine
2 Tbs orange juice (fresh-squeezed works best, or not-from-concentrate with pulp)
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbs water
1 Orange, sliced into thin half-circles
Optional Garnishes
Choose one of the following:
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbs crumbled bacon
2 Tbs slivered toasted almonds

Trim and peel the broccoli stalk ends and cut the broccoli lengthwise into uniform spears. Cut the sweet bell pepper into julienne strips. Using gloves to protect your skin, de-seed the hot pepper(s) and mince. Place the broccoli, peppers, and water in a microwave-safe 8x8x2 inch baking dish, cover with clear plastic wrap leaving 1 corner open to vent, and microwave for 6 to 8 minutes or until the broccoli is crisp-tender, stirring once during the cooking time. Remove from microwave, seal tight with the plastic wrap and let stand while you prepare the orange butter.

For the orange butter, place the butter or margarine, orange juice and orange zest in a microwave-safe small bowl or measuring cup and cook, uncovered, in the microwave for about 1 minute or until the butter is melted. Stir to blend. Carefully drain the broccoli-pepper mixture (be careful not to lose too much of the minced hot pepper!), place the orange slices in a single layer on a serving platter and arrange the broccoli mixture on top, leaving a "border" of orange slices. Drizzle the orange butter over the broccoli mixture and sprinkle with the garnish of your choice.

Zestfully yours,

PS: No time to cook? Here's a no-brainer and no-effort way to get your veggies and make them taste good as well: Simply microwave your favorite frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, peas, medleys, California or stirfry blends, you name it) and then top with a little butter or margarine and a few twists of a Nando's Peri-Peri Grinder. That's it!

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