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Crispy Lemon Broccolini

January 22, 2012

I noticed a trend in restaurants to serve charred or crispy broccoli and cauliflower. I tend to like my food crunchy, so not surprisingly, I am a fan of this trend. Broccolini is the perfect vegetable for this because the stalk tends to be tougher than regular broccoli, so it can stand up to the high heat. This is an easy side to serve along a main course, or on the side with rice. Last week, friends invited us over for dinner. Since I do not want to be a pain to my hosts, I always try to bring a vegetarian side to help the cook. This side dish was perfect with the lasagna, salad and bread which filled the table– not to mention very easy to make. After being nervous about attending a dinner party where I didn’t want to offend the host with our vegetarian diet, I was relieved to enjoy a scrumptious meal with friends.

I appreciate people making an effort to accommodate our life choice, but I don’t expect them to alter their world for us. For example, to celebrate birthdays at Serafina’s school, the parents buy a pizza for the class. I sent an email to the parents asking for a head’s up, so that if the family bought pizza with meat, I could just provide a veggie slice for Serafina. I was very careful the email didn’t sound annoying, but just to let parents know that we would like to help her join in on the class fun. I have no expectations that someone else will provide for her. Being vegetarian is our choice, and I can’t require others to change, but it does require me to develop the confidence to communicate my lifestyle. As a teacher, I know I can’t force someone to change, I lead change through being an example, while also reducing potential conflict. Although some vegetarians tend to preach, I try to be hyper aware of avoiding this when it comes to friends or acquaintances. The funny thing is any conflict that usually happens in conversation is when another person asks me why I am a vegetarian, and I usually respond “Are you sure you want me to answer this?” I find, and AAM has noticed this, that once I explain, despite my warning, people get very defensive and argumentative. I really hate when conversations about my personal life choice devolve into a debatable free for all, and usually in the end people accuse me of pushing my ideas on them. So, you can understand my general wariness of having to call hosts or other parents about being vegetarian, sometimes our personal choice appears to be an assault on the choices others make.

I am always nervous about the balance between being a proactive advocate for our family and being seen as an annoying preachy person. However, with that expectation, I find so many thoughtful people really making sweet gestures. At a recent birthday party, where a very close friend bought a gigantic six-foot sub for the toddlers and adults (which I am still trying to figure out how they transported it to the party venue), she also provided a vegetarian sub and peanut butter and jelly for Serafina and other non-meat eaters. Small acts like that really make me appreciate the people who fill our lives. When I struggle over if I should call the host to let them know about our diet, I remind myself that when I have people over, I want to share a meal they can eat. I avoid serving beans for one friend or nuts to another. These days we all have interesting diets, so trying to meet in the center with common food is a way you can forge relationships.

Crispy Lemon Broccolini

  • 2 bunches of broccolini
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 tb olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Chop the ends off of the broccolini.

3.  Toss the broccolini in the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan; make sure they are spaced evenly. Squeeze lemon juice on top.

4. Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, and check on them. If you have a gas stove, they should be charred, if not you might need to put them in a little longer. The tips of the trees should be a little browned, and the stalk bright green.

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