At the Global Food/ Local Perspectives symposium a few weeks ago, Chef Ake lamented the waste of broccoli stems at his restaurants. His comments reminded me of a recipe from my sister, Moli, who would cook the stems with dal (lentil soup). Here is my version:
1. I started with a bunch of sad broccoli stems saved from another meal.
2. Like any unappreciated thing the stems are tough and thick on the outside but crispy and juicy on the inside. Using a paring knife, carefully carve away the ugly sadness.
3. Dice the juicy happy centers.
4. In a pot, place the diced stem ( I had a cup) with a cup of any small lentils you have. I had yellow and red lentils. Cover with at least double amount of water or broth. Add more or less liquid depending on how thick you like your lentil soup.
5. There is debate about when to salt lentils. Some say salt prevents the lentils from breaking down. I don’t know. I always add the tumeric and salt after the lentils soften.
6. Once softened, add salt to taste and about a teaspoon of tumeric. Saute cumin seeds, onions or shallots, dried chilies and garlic in 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
7. Pour the roasted shallot mixture over the cooked lentils and broccoli stems.
8. Enjoy with rice or bread, a squeeze of lemon and sprinkling of cilantro. Perfect for fall weather. The roasted onions and cumin give the dish depth and smokiness while the vegetable lightens the thick lentils.