Spicy Stir-Fried Broccoli

Spicy Stir-Fried Broccoli

Indulged just a little too much during the holidays? How about a delicious vegetarian dish that will delight all the meat lovers in your family?

There's nothing wimpy about this stir-fry, as you'll see. The chickpeas add enough heft to make this a satisfyingly filling main course, but the sauce and vegetables would also taste great over pasta.

If using whole broccoli, separate it into individual stalks and discard their tough ends. If using broccoli florets, set aside.

Cut the garlic into very thin slices. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the tomato juice. Place the tomatoes on a cutting board and cut them into fairly thin strips.

Heat a large skillet (not nonstick) over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add 2 tablespoons of the oil; it will immediately scatter around the skillet. Add the garlic slices and cook, constantly stirring or shaking the skillet, for 2 to 3 minutes, until most of them are golden brown; do not let them burn.

Add the tomato strips and reduce the heat to medium; cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, then add the reserved tomato juice and the drained chickpeas. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Add the butter, if using, and stir to mix well; a pale red ragu (sauce) will form. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm. (If the ragu becomes too thick, add water as necessary.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan or skillet (not nonstick) over high heat; when it is very hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil (again, the oil will scatter). Immediately add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan or skillet. The edges of the crowns or florets will begin to brown; that is okay. Season with the crushed red pepper flakes and salt to taste, if using. Add 1/4 cup of the water and quickly cover; let the broccoli stalks steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. If using florets, steam for 2 to 3 minutes. (Add the remaining 1/4 cup water in increments if the liquid in the pan or skillet evaporates too quickly).

The broccoli will be bright green; remove from the heat and uncover. To serve, divide the tomato-chickpea ragu among individual plates, then pile the broccoli on top. Serve hot.

Serves 4

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