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Home with the Lost Italian: Fall florets — As weather cools, turn up the oven for roasted vegetables

 Fall is officially here, and we find ourselves switching over from the grill to the oven when it comes to cooking vegetables.

Roasting is our favorite way to enjoy a variety of veggies in the colder months, and this week I’m sharing a robust, flavorful recipe for Garlic Roasted Broccoli featuring almonds, orange and pecorino Cheese. There are six main components in this easy-to-make vegetarian side dish: broccoli, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, almonds, oranges and pecorino-Romano cheese.

With a pungent vegetable like broccoli, I felt it important to add ingredients that are bright enough to complement the broccoli without being overpowered by it. The aromatics of these fragrant flavors working together might even be enough to entice your kid to give broccoli another try.

The flavor in this side dish is created in three stages. In the first stage, the fresh broccoli florets are tossed before roasting with thinly sliced garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Slicing the garlic as thin as possible will help mellow its spicy bite and make it almost melt into the broccoli as it roasts. With such a simple dish, every flavor matters, so use your best extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe.

The second stage is to roast the broccoli, and a hot oven (425 degrees) does wonders to transform this sturdy, green vegetable into tenderly crisp and caramelized florets. It only takes about 20 to 25 minutes for this step, depending on your oven and how roasted you want your broccoli. I prefer my broccoli a little on the charred side and remove it when the tips are just starting to blacken.

The third stage brings the final punch of flavor to this dish. Immediately upon removing it from the oven, the broccoli is tossed with orange juice and zest, toasted sliced almonds and freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese. It’s important to do this while the broccoli is very hot, as the heat will help the broccoli to absorb each flavor.

To keep them from burning, I toast the almonds on their own instead of roasting them with the broccoli.

During our trip to Italy this summer, we spent four days eating our way through Rome, where pecorino-Romano cheese is present in many dishes. We generally use Parmigiano-Reggiano at home, and I’d almost forgotten about this other Italian hard white cheese. Like Parmigiano, pecorino has a wonderful nutty quality but with more tang and saltiness, making it an ideal partner for the pungent broccoli.

The prep time for this side dish is about 10 to 15 minutes, and most of it can be done in advance and assembled just before roasting. With its simple preparation and big flavor profile, this Garlic Roasted Broccoli with Almonds, Orange and Pecorino is a simple, nutritious and delicious weeknight winner.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead, Minn., and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

Garlic Roasted Broccoli with Almonds and Orange

Serves: 4 to 6

2 12-ounce packages of broccoli florets, or 3 to 4 heads of broccoli, washed and cut into florets

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced as thin as possible

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the broccoli florets on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Add the sliced garlic and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the broccoli and use your hands to toss the ingredients until combined. Roast in the center of the oven until the florets are tenderly crisp and the tips are turning brown or just starting to char, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the orange juice and zest, the sliced almonds and the grated pecorino. Use tongs to toss until well combined.

Best served hot, but leftovers can be refrigerated for several days and may be served warm or cold.

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