The best broccoli, maybe ever.

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I don't make that claim lightly. Even the toddler eats this with abandon, though he's intermittently a huge fan of broccoli. I say "intermittently" because, like all toddlers, he's mercurial and what he loves one day, he abhors the next. But broccoli falls back into favor more often than any other vegetable. All that to say, this broccoli is great- salty and crunchy and garlicky, but with a bit of freshness from the basil and something indefinable and unctuous from the anchovies.

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Two things: Don't fear the anchovies and don't skip the fresh basil or substitute dried. It won't be the same. But back to the anchovies: This is a divisive little bottom-feeder. Love them or hate them, try them in this recipe. You won't really taste them because they are broken down at the start of the cooking process, so they really just become a salty, briny background note.

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This dish is a great side for grilled proteins or mixed with whole grain or white pasta. I haven't yet tried it, but I also want to mix in some lentils for some non-meat protein.

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Broccoli with anchovies and basil

2 medium heads broccoli, chopped into small pieces
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2-3 large anchovy filets (or 4-5 small ones)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup whole wheat panko
15 basil leaves (about 1/3 cup chopped)

Preheat the oven to 400. Chop the broccoli and spread evenly over a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Add 2 Tbsp of oil and toss to coat. Add a small pinch of salt (the anchovies are salty, so you don't need much extra seasoning). Roast for 30-40 minutes until the broccoli is deeply browned on at least one side (usually the side touching the hot pan roasts first). Check the broccoli occasionally to make sure it isn’t burning. If it looks like the greens aren’t cooking evenly, give them a shake.

While the broccoli is cooking, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil over a medium flame. Turn the heat to low and add the anchovies. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, squash and chop the filets while they cook until they are completely broken up.

Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Increase the heat back to medium low and add the breadcrumbs. Mix ingredients thoroughly and toast the breadcrumbs for 4-5 minutes, shaking the pan often to stir the ingredients and distribute the heat.

When toasted to a slightly darker golden brown, remove from the heat and place in a large bowl. When the broccoli is done, add it to the breadcrumb mixture and turn to coat.

Add the chopped basil and turn a few more times to distribute.

Yield: 4-6 side servings

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