A new summer favorite: Roasted broccoli steaks with fresh tomato sauce and olive bread crumbs. Here, roasted tomatoes and onions unite in a super simple but incredibly tasty sauce. They’re topped with roasted broccoli “steaks” and finished with olive bread crumbs, which are insanely addictive.

A plate of roasted broccoli steaks on tomato sauce topped with olive bread crumbs.

This recipe, from this month’s Food & Wine, immediately caught my attention for its attribution: Greg Vernick of Philadelphia’s Vernick, a restaurant I love.

If you’ve eaten at Vernick, you’ve likely had the pea toasts: thick slices of toasty sourdough smeared with a minty green purée topped with bacon. As you can imagine, the combination is heavenly.

The striking hue of the “tomato butter” in the F&W photo, similarly brilliant to that of the pea purée, immediately took me back to eating those toasts, and the flavor, when I finally made the dish, did too.

Friends, where to begin? The combination of ingredients here is so unexpected for me — I never think to pair broccoli and tomatoes so conspicuously — but they’re a great match. The addition of olives, which I almost omitted, is another surprising element, a simple flourish but one with a big impact: the meaty bursts of umami permeate the entire dish. I find the whole combination to be so, so delicious.

There are three components to this recipe: the sauce, the broccoli, and the olive bread crumbs. Let’s explore each one:

Roasted Tomato “Butter”

Forgive the hyperbole here, but this sauce, referred to as tomato “butter” in the recipe, blew me away. And though at this point, I shouldn’t be surprised when a simple sauce tastes so good, I was.

To make it, you simply roast a couple cups of cherry tomatoes and a chopped red onion with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After 30 minutes or so, when the tomatoes have collapsed and are starting to brown lightly, you purée them with water and a couple tablespoons of butter. That’s it!

Not once have I had to adjust the flavor with more salt or pepper. It tastes fresh and bright, and I have no doubt I will be making this sauce in the future to toss with pasta or to spread over pizza dough.

Note: I have used both my Vitamix and my Cuisinart to purée this sauce. Both work, but if you have a Vitamix, use it — it makes for an especially smooth purée.

Roasted Broccoli

Like cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other members of the cruciferous vegetable family, broccoli loves a good char.

The trick here is to roast the broccoli cut side down until it is nicely brown — don’t turn the broccoli until you see good caramelization. For me, this takes roughly 30 minutes, but this may take more or less time for you depending on your oven (… mine has been running cool).

Olive Bread Crumbs

The original recipe calls for simply toasting bread crumbs in olive oil, sprinkling them over the finished dish, and serving an olive tapenade on the side.

The first time I made this, I did just that — coincidentally I had a small jar of olive tapenade on hand, which I threw on the table with low expectations. Its inclusion felt a little “extra” to me: nice to have but maybe superfluous?

I was wrong! I found myself wanting a little olive tapenade in each bite, and before we knew it, Ben and I had made a serious dent in the jar.

Because many of you may not have tapenade on hand, and because some of you may not want to track it down, the next time I made this, I omitted it. Instead, after toasting the bread crumbs in olive oil, I simply tossed in some minced Kalamata olives.

Warning for olive lovers: these bread crumbs are addictive. I find myself eating them with a spoon while I wait for the broccoli to finish roasting. Once I had to make a second batch, because I had polished off so much of the first.

A few thoughts:

  1. If you don’t like olives, simply omit them. The bread crumbs are delicious on their own.
  2. If you have olive tapenade on hand, use it! Save yourself the step of chopping the olives. If you’re feeling really ambitious, make the olive tapenade yourself.
  3. If you are avoiding bread, I think a toasted walnut-olive topping would be delicious. Almonds and pine nuts — any nut you like, really — would also be great. I do think a crunchy element of some sort is essential here.

I hope you all love this one as much as I.

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.

An onion, pint of cherry tomatoes and two heads of broccoli on a kitchen counter.

Trim the ends off the broccoli stalks and peel the lower stems:

Two heads of broccoli on a cutting board, ends peeled with a peeler.

Halve the heads; then place on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil and salt. I love these quarter sheet pans:

Two halved heads of broccoli on a sheet pan.

Toss cherry tomatoes and a roughly chopped onion with olive oil and salt in a separate pan.

A pan of tomatoes and onions, tossed with olive oil and salt.

Transfer both pans to a 475ºF oven, and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

Two pans: one holding roasted tomatoes and onions; the other holding roasted broccoli.

Transfer the onions and their juices along with 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons butter to a blender or food processor.

A blender filled with roasted broccoli and onions.

Purée until smooth.

Meanwhile, chop up 1/3 cup Kalamata olives.

Chopped olives on a board.

Toast 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until evenly golden.

Toasty bread crumbs in a skillet.

Add the olives. Stir briefly; then remove from the heat.

Olive bread crumbs in a skillet.

Smear some tomato sauce over a platter. Top with the roasted steaks.

Roasted broccoli halves on a plate spread with tomato sauce.

Spoon the olive bread crumbs over top.

A plate of roasted broccoli steaks topped with olive bread crumbs.

Serve immediately, passing extra sauce and olive bread crumbs on the side.

A plate of roasted broccoli steaks on tomato sauce topped with olive bread crumbs.
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A plate of roasted broccoli steaks on tomato sauce topped with olive bread crumbs.

Easy Roasted Broccoli Steaks


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Adapted from this Food and Wine recipe, attributed to Greg Vernick of Philadelphia’s Vernick. 

For the fresh bread crumbs: simply place a hunk of day- or days-old bread into the food processor. Blend until finely chopped. Transfer to a storage vessel. Freeze the crumbs for up to 3 months or transfer to the fridge for 2 to 3 days. 

The original recipe called for olive tapenade. I simplified this a bit by adding chopped olives to the bread crumbs themselves. A few thoughts: 

  1. If you don’t like olives, simply omit them. The bread crumbs are delicious on their own.
  2. If you have olive tapenade on hand, use it! Save yourself the step of chopping the olives. If you’re feeling really ambitious, make the olive tapenade yourself.
  3. If you are avoiding bread, I think a toasted walnut-olive topping would be delicious. Almonds and pine nuts — any nut you like, really — would also be great. I do think a crunchy element of some sort is essential here.

Ingredients

  • 2 small-ish heads broccoli, 1.25-1.5 lbs total
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (12 ounces)
  • 1 red onion (9 ounces pre trimming)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 ounces) fresh bread crumbs, see notes above
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, see notes above

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 475ºF. 
  2. Prepare the broccoli: Trim the end off each head of broccoli. Peel the stalks to remove the tough outer later. Halve each head. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. (I like to use these quarter sheet pans for this.) Toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Place the heads cut side down. Set aside. 
  3. Prepare the tomatoes: In a 9-inch square baking dish (or something similar), toss the tomatoes and onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Season with pepper to taste. 
  4. Transfer both pans to the oven for 25-30 minutes. (Note: Please check after 10 minutes — if the broccoli is charring too quickly, lower the heat to 450ºF. My oven has been running cool, so 475ºF has been working for me.) To test for doneness, lift up one of the broccoli heads — you want it to be nicely caramelized on its cut side. If it isn’t brown, continue to roast until it is brown. The tomatoes should be beginning to collapse and starting to lightly blister in spots. Remove both pans from the oven. Flip the broccoli heads and return the pan to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Transfer the roasted tomatoes and onions along with 1/4 cup water to a high speed blender or food processor. If using a blender be sure to let the mixture cool briefly before puréeing, or be sure to start puréeing on low, with the small opening at the top removed and covered lightly with a tea towel to allow the hot air to escape. Purée until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons butter and purée again until smooth. Taste. Adjust with salt to taste. Add water by the tablespoon to thin. Sauce should be pourable. 
  6. Make the bread crumbs: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil oil until it just begins to shimmer. Add the bread crumbs and a small pinch of salt. Toast, stirring often, until the crumbs are evenly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the olives and stir for another 15 seconds or so. Remove pan from heat. 
  7. To plate: Pour sauce (you likely won’t need all of it) over a serving platter, spreading with the back of a spoon. Top with the roasted broccoli halves. Spoon as many of the olive bread crumbs over top as you wish. Serve immediately passing more sauce and olive bread crumbs on the side. 
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: roasted, broccoli, steaks, vegetarian, olives