Broccoli Pepperoni? Broccoli and pepperoni don't go together in a sentence very often. The pepperoni pizza is, by all accounts, the most popular pizza here in the USA. Picture your average 10 year old boy walking into his local pizza shop. "Can I have a medium pepperoni pizza, uhmm…also with roasted broccoli?!!" That just isn't going to happen. Maybe I'm wrong though.
I love broccoli. Even my daughter loves broccoli and that kid is like a cat - she's finicky! If you've read my recipe musings you'll already know that Owen (my son) likes broccoli. He's like Mikey; "He eats everything!" I was making some broccoli a while back and, after cutting the branches off the stocks, I noticed the cross section of the stalk and it looked moist and interesting for some reason. So, I sliced a piece off and ate it. It was good. I thought, why do we cut off the top of the broccoli, the florets, and just throw all of this away? Maybe the collective "we" doesn't, but I had never really been served broccoli trunk before.
So, I started chopping more of the stalk and using it in salads, or even thicker chunks when steaming broccoli for dinner, and life was good. One day when I was slicing some stalk I noticed the shape of the little discs. For some reason I thought of pizza topping and then, aha, broccoli pepperoni! I know this may not be something I should be sharing in public, it could get me locked up. But, I trust you all to keep this part of the story to yourselves.
I am still working on the recipe, but thought I would share it now, even while still in development, because I think it's an interesting concept. A big part of what we are searching for here on Pizza Quest is not just that perfect pizza, or perfect final product, but what is interesting; what is the process; who are the driven people and what drives them to create amazing food -- how did they get here? I know this aha moment is just a small example of that quest, but it is a part of the process, at least for me, of making our lives interesting, enriched, and fun. In other words, broccoli pepperoni is me, in my driven state.
I was also thinking that I'd like to extend this concept into zucchini, or maybe even try a breaded eggplant "pepperoni." The real quest here, as it often is, is my search for flavor.
By the way, my daughter gave this pizza two thumbs up!
- 3-4 Large Broccoli Stalks
- Olive Oil *Approx. 1 - 2 Tablespoons
- Soy Sauce *Approx. 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon
- Rice Wine Vinegar *Approx. 1/2 Tablespoon
- Paprika *Approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Garlic Powder *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon
- Ground Fennel Seed *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon
- Ground Red Pepper Flakes *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon
- Ground Mustard Seed *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon
- A little Cayenne Pepper
- Ground Black Pepper
*Note: I have been making this by "eye" and "feel." These amounts are approximate. Start with less and add more of each as needed, per your taste. Mix it all together and taste one piece. Adjust and taste again until you have it where you like it. You can find all sorts of homemade pepperoni recipes online that can guide you if you want/need exact spice measurements. As I play with this, I'll updated the recipe here. Please do the same if you have any suggested tweaks.
Cut the broccoli heads off the stalks. Trim the stalks as needed. Cut off the bottom edge.
Slice broccoli into 1/8" slices.
*You don't have to be precise because varying the slices gives a variety of textures after they are cooked. The slightly thicker slices are more moist, while the thinner ones get a little crispier and curl up more.
Place slices in a bowl and add the ingredients. I did so to taste. I've added approximate amounts above, but think this can be done by adding what you think feels right and then tasting and adjusting.
I used the olive oil, soy and rice wine vinegar to form the spices into a marinade and add flavor. In a previous version I used a brewed my own fish sauce, which is basically equal parts commercial fish sauce, vinegar, water and sugar, boiled. I loved the flavor that brought, but my wife thought it was a little fishy. Try that if you like the fish sauce flavor instead of the soy/vinegar combo which turned out quite nice as well.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 Degrees.
Lay your marinaded broccoli "pepperoni" slices out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. This is a little work because they will all be stuck together in the bowl!
Place into the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Check, and when they are softening and starting to curl, or some of the thinner slices are starting to brown on the edges, pull it out and turn the slices over with a pair of tongs. Place the pan back into the oven and check the pieces in about 5 minutes. You don't need to cook them all the way. If using on pizza they will cook another 6-10 minutes. The pre-baking is just to get them started.
You can cook these ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator for later use. They can even be thrown on a sandwich as a topping to add a little spice and flavor.
Check back here, as I'll update this post with more details on my vegetables pepperoni quest!