Nutritionally it’s sound (it made Mark’s “Top 10 Foods I Couldn’t Live Without” list) but broccoli can be pretty one-dimensional on the plate. The intense crunchiness of this cruciferous is why we love it so much, but some days, we wish there was a little more complex flavor along with that crunch. That’s why we’ve taken to dousing it with vinegar and garlic-infused oil, which not only ups the flavor a notch but also gently marinates and softens the broccoli a bit. The vinegar gives the broccoli a tangy, fresh flavor and a bright, bold green hue while the olive oil is being soaked up by each floret like a sponge, giving the broccoli more richness. Red pepper adds color and kalamata olives bring salty acidity to each bite. This is raw broccoli, but with a little attitude.
Adding the spicy kick of garlic is our favorite part, and varies in intensity depending on our mood. Some days, two cloves seems like enough and other days we toss in an amount so obscene that it guarantees we’ll be breathing fire. If you want to make things even more interesting, toss in a handful of red pepper flakes or diced hot pepper, too.
And when you’re cutting that head of broccoli up into smaller florets, don’t forget about the thick stems. Trim the outer layer of tough peel and what lies beneath is a tender, juicy, entirely edible and delicious inner core.
In a bowl, sprinkle the vinegar and salt over the broccoli and red pepper and use your hands to toss the vegetables.
In a skillet, warm the olive oil. Add garlic and saute no more than one minute, until the garlic is fragrant and only slightly browned. Pour over the broccoli and red pepper. Add kalamatas. Use your hands to massage the oil into the broccoli. Let sit 1 hour at room temperature then either serve immediately, or chill and then serve.