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Sicilian Drowned Broccoli

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Broccoli drowned in red wine like they will serve you in Catania, Sicily.

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Here is a simple Sicilian recipe from Catania - broccoli affogati, literaly meaning 'drowned broccoli'. How do they drown? The broccoli drowns in glorious Sicilian wine and is served with pecorino scales, to make for a scrumptious side dish or, served with toasted bread, for a light evening meal.

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Cut your broccoli into florets and wash. Discard the hard stems.

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Peel and cut an onion in half.

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Slice thinly.

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Heat a tablespoon olive oil in a deep pot such as a Dutch oven and heat the onions until soft. Add the broccoli.

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Leave for a minute on medium-high heat then add a glass of water (half a cup).

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Mix and let the water reach ebullition...

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...then add a glass of red wine, Sicilian if you have it. Cover and simmer quietly for 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, cut your pecorino cheese into the thinnest slices you can make. Here I use a fancy tool, a truffle mandolina, but you could do it with a vegetable peeler.

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I recommend you use a cheese with character, such as this seasoned pecorino with whole peppercorns. It will be soul of this dish. If you must substitute choose a full-fat semi-hard cheese that can melt like a gentleman. No prima donna that will break into oil and casein when the heat comes around the corner.

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After 15 minutes, try to stab the broccoli stems where they are thickest. If the knife goes in smoothly, proceed. If not, cover and continue to cook for a few more minutes, then test again.

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Remove the pot from the fire. Don't you just turn the heat off, you need to put the pot on some cool surface lest your cheese breaks down because of too much heat. Mix the cheese in ...

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... and toss.

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Rub the bread with oil and toast. Grate a garlic clove on the toasted bread, then garnish each plate with one toast.

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Delicately remove the broccoli and wine-colored onions with a spatula ...

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... and place over the bread.

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A rustic but very authentic Italian dish.


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If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!


Looks yummy.  My stomach is growling now.
Wow Francois! Finally a dish of yours that even I can make well and it doesn't take eleventy hours.This looks excellent and we in the Orph house love anything with broccoli and cheese. I could see adding a little pork to this and calling it dinner.
  • #3
  • Comment by Elizabeth
Delicious!  I'm craving the flavours of this dish and will have to make this soon.  Your photos are spectacular!  
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Gary, thanks for your visit!
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
Donald, thanks for visiting and I wish you good luck with this dish - very simple indeed!
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
Thanks Elizabeth, actually I made this recipe 6 months ago and was not sure whether to post it - too simple perhaps!
  • #7
  • Comment by Luke
Wow. I just finished this recipe moments ago, and I'm compelled to remark just how amazing this dish is.It was surprisingly filling (I could hardly finish a small bowl worth of broccoli), but vibrant enough to keep me out of a food coma. I'm absolutely floored. Let's just say that if l'd have gotten this at a resaurant it would instantly be cemented to my favorites list.Thank you oh-so-much for sharing such a great idea as this. I'll definitely try some other recipes on this blog.
  • #8
  • Comment by Jay
How much broccoli and cheese does one use for this recipe? It looks amazing.
  • #9
  • Comment by Elizabeth
I like simple meals :-)  Glad you decided to post it ~Does FXcuisine focus on southern Italian recipes?  I was just curious.  They all look and sound wonderful!  My father's parents are from southern Italy (Calabria and Naples) so I'm particularly fond of food from this region.  
That looks fantastic! I am enjoying your website immensely!
Incredible! There is a cheesemonger in the essex market on the lower east side of manhattan that sells a delicious black truffle pecorino. I can't wait to try it in this!
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
Luke, thank you for trying this recipe! I am so glad that you liked it. What cheese did you try it with?
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
Jay, italian recipes do not always give very precise quantities. I suggest you start with one bunch of broccoli (1-2 lbs) and one onion, then add 3 oz / 100 grams cheese and taste. If not cheesy enough, add more.
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
Elizabeth, I'm glad you like this simple dish! I do all sorts of cooking but am always drawn back to Italian cuisine for various reasons. Here we get fairly decent original Italian ingredients and today I just got a bag full of traditional Italian regional recipes. Since most are relatively straightforward to make, this explains the large number of them Italian dishes on this here blog.
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
Janine, thanks for visiting!
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
Julie, thanks for visiting and go ahead with the truffle pecorino, this is a godsent! I loved your post about Tsukiji.
This sounds good and easy. I am planning on making buckwheat crepes soon following your tips-maybe I will have to do some broccoli too!
Francois this looks delicious.  My wife's grandmother used to make something similar to this.  I am passing this on to my wife and I am sure it will be a huge hit on our house!  Anything broccoli and cheese.  We are truly enjoying your website!
  • #19
  • Comment by Luke
Ah! The cheese. I used pecorino siciliano and a little bit of grana padano for my first attempt. Both finely shredded rather than shaved. Turned out beautifully. One question, though: how dry was the wine you used? I only had some Málaga on hand, and while I loved the result, I wonder if perhaps something with less sugar might turn out better.
  • #20
  • Comment by Luke
Hmm. I borrowed some semi-dry Portuguese red wine from a friend, and attempted this again with some pecorino pepato. The flavors did mesh better, but it lacked the magic of my first attempt. The rich, velvety sweetness of reduced malaga really made everything stand out the first time around. Dulce really is the way to go. The problem is thus not the wine, but the cheese. Something that works well sweet, but melts beautifully. Manchego viejo, perhaps? With malaga, it might be an interesting Spanish twist.
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Lyra, good luck with the buckwheat crepes and drowned broccoli!
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
Gary, thanks for visiting and I hope you get to try this recipe! Choose the cheese carefully, that's what gives the character to this dish.
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Luke, I'm sure you'll get fine results with Malaga and Sicilian farmers would certainly have no problem using it. But I'd stick to a dry wine if you get the choice.
  • #24
  • Comment by John
I'm making this right now for a light dinner. One of your few recipes that can be made with stuff I usually have lying around the house. I love it.

It went very well as a dish to your bolognese sauce.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
John, thanks for trying both the Drowned Broccoli and the Bolognese Sauce, an unusual match but good products can't make bad dishes!
  • #26
  • Comment by Ben
Bella, bella. I braise broccoli this way, but without the cheese. I add a little minced garlic after the onions, then add golden raisins or currants, stir a couple of minutes, then I add the broccoli, then water and vino, salt and pepper, sometime crushed red pepper. Sometimes I add toasted pine nuts at the end, just to make sure I get is Sicilianisssssssimo enough.  I like how the flavors and textures blend: savory, sweet, tangy, crunchy, soft. Great before pasta. Sometimes I can get the Sicilian flowering broccoli or the purple or lime-green varieties. My Nonna would add a little sugar, but never tell anyone.  I bet the leftovers would be fantastic on pizza with some romano or gran padano. I don't think we have Kenwood machines in the U.S., but all those macaron' pictures are beautiful. Maybe I will get a pasta extruder for my KitchenAid mixer.
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
Thanks Ben, have you looked at my Sicilian Broccoli Pasta, very much like what you describe. Such a treat! Let me know if there are other cult Sicilian recipes I should make and show on my website.
  • #28
  • Comment by Stephan
I have been looking at your website for the past two months and I have to admit that the illustration of each of your recipes are transcending your experience of cooking and picturing. Anyway, after testing several of your dishes I realized I wanted to, in one sense, acknowledge all the efforts, and then take the opportunity to explain the problem I faced for this dish. I fortunately (well this is not what may think my wallet but that is another story) found some Pecorino from Italy but surprisingly the cheese was difficult to melt and didn't bring much of flavor. I was disappointed since the cheese by himself is quite flavorful so perplex about the results. What would be your recommendation ? Is it possible to add some fresh peppercorns to the dish to bring some character ?
Again wonderful dishes and pictures.

  • #29
  • Answered by fx
Stephan, thanks for visiting and I'm glad you decided to actually try one of these recipes! There are dozens of pecorino cheeses in Italy, each rather different from the other. All the have in common is to be made from sheep milk. The main axis to compare one pecorino to another is how pungent they are (piccante or dolce), how hard and whether there is extra flavoring such as peppercorns or truffles in the cheese. So if you got one pecorino that cost an arm and a leg and didn't melt, it doesn't mean the shop took advantage of you. You should ask if they have a not-too-dry pecorino, and have a look to see if the cheese is soft enough to dry. Depending on the shop I visit, they just don't have the right pecorino for the dish I have in mind, so no worry, just cook something different or use good quality Monterrey Jack Cheese as a substitute. I hope this helps!
  • #30
  • Comment by ark.
Even with mediocre ingredients (cheap French red past its prime, pre-shredded American pseudo-Parmesan) this worked out well for me.  I added too much wine, I think, and found I wanted rather a lot of salt once it was on the plate.  With better cheese and wine this would be excellent.  Thank you.
  • #31
  • Answered by fx
Ark, thanks for trying this! Don't worry, you'll find better cheeses someday and that'll just be an opportunity to do it again!
  • #32
  • Comment by Cedar
Your photography is amazing, and the color of this dish blows me away. Hopefully I can find some good pecorino and try this soon.
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
Cedar, good luck if you try this, with the proper pecorino you just can't miss it.
  • #34
  • Comment by FITY
I made this the other day. It tasted so good I can't wait to make it again! :)
  • #35
  • Answered by fx
Fity, thanks for trying this and I'm glad it worked for you!
  • #36
  • Comment by Louise
This dish is fabulous. My husband and I have made it about a dozen times over the past three months, using cheap Australian plonk and it is heaven on a plate. I am telling anyone who will listen about your divine website as well as this recipe in particular. Thank you very much for the wonderful suppers we have had.
  • FX's answer→ Louise, I am so happy to learn my little recipe has become part of your regular homecooked meals! Definitely a healthy dinner. Do you use it as a side-dish or as a main course? What sort of cheese do you use? Any bread with it?

Dear Sir;
Last year my husband and I went on a tour of Sicily. Being American/Sicilian, I was with "my people". Needless to say the food was excellent, a lot of what I grew up with. While I was in Catania, we ate at a cafe in the square. We had this dish that was stuffed with tomatoes and cheese and I'm not sure what else. A sort of pastry I believe. I can't remember what it was called. Can you help me out??? I've been racking my brain trying to remember what it was. Thank you so much if you can help me.

Mrs. Sylvia Drew
  • FX's answer→ Sylvia, do you have more details about this dish? Boiled or baked? Served in a sauce?

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