Roman Style Broccoli Sauté


man holding bushel of broccoli
Jesse from Blue House Farms with broccoli at Upper Haight Farmers’ Market in San Francisco.
Photo by Anna Buss

Often when people are preparing broccoli, they think that the only usable part is the floret. But surprisingly enough, the stem and the leaves offer a depth of texture and flavor that you don’t want to miss out on.

For the freshest broccoli, choose those with long stems and leaves. We were won over by the beautiful broccoli from Blue House Farms at Upper Haight Farmers’ Market in San Francisco. Enjoy this simple recipe!

Roman Style Broccoli Sauté
(Serves 4-6)
sauteed broccoli on platter



  1. Starting from the base of the stem, use a paring knife to peel away the fibrous exterior. Keep the broccoli leaves for sauté. Remove the stem from the broccoli head and cut it into batons (long, thin rectangular shapes). Slice the florets in half. Set broccoli pieces aside.
  2. Smash garlic cloves and place in cold sauté pan, add pinch of salt and olive oil. (Smashing the garlic and adding salt helps to break down the enzymatic wall which will encourage the release of flavor into the oil.) Bring pan to medium-high heat. When the oil starts to bubble, add broccoli and pinch of salt. Move broccoli around pan several times and then let sit, allowing broccoli to caramelize.
  3. While broccoli is caramelizing, zest one lemon. Add splash of lemon juice to deglaze sauté pan. As steam rises, drag spoon across pan picking up broccoli and all fond (little brown bits at the bottom of the pan). Add zest and chili flakes, stir, and remove pan from heat.
  4. To serve, lay broccoli on plate and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

*Leaving the skin on the cloves helps to prevent the garlic from burning. The dish can be plated with or without the garlic.

Recipe created by Mario Hernandez, program coordinator and market chef for Cookin’ the Market

Guinea Pigs: The Starter Pet

When I was 9, I tried—unsuccessfully—to convince my parents to buy me a puppy. The fish had died off one by one, and the frogs committed suicide by literally jumping out of the tank (it was a long way down). They didn’t seem like real pets anyway, not something you could really love or teach tricks. I was eager for the next step, and to prove it, I compiled a list of reasons why I was ready for a puppy. After reading my manifesto, my parents came back with an unexpected counteroffer: a guinea pig. Not as good as a dog, a bit of a starter pet maybe, but it was a step in the right direction. As I toyed with the suggestion, my younger sister, Dana, asked the question that would seal the deal: “Can we both have one?” My parents looked at each other and slowly nodded. Two pets! I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this.

At the pet store that weekend, Dana and I spent 40 minutes debating the character traits of guinea pigs. We are different, and this was apparent even in our choice of rodents. I chose a feisty, brown, white, and black long-haired one that I named Spence, while my sister went with the more docile short-haired one that looked like a rat. She called him Broccoli. The only characteristic my parents were interested in was that Broccoli and Spence were both male—which they confirmed with the owner—and so we took our new charges home. I was elated: I had scored my first pet with hair.

Over the next few months, Spence and Broccoli took up the majority of our time. They couldn’t play dead or shake hands, but we enjoyed dressing them in Barbie clothes, having them compete in races, and feeding them their favorite snack, lettuce, often­—so often that the moment they heard the opening of the refrigerator door, they made an excited whistle-like sound in anticipation.

When we noticed that Broccoli looked chunky, we cut down on the snacks—even too much lettuce can cause weight gain—but he kept getting bigger. We soon discovered that Broccoli was not just getting fat, but rather “he” was a very pregnant “she.” Dana and I watched the birth, and we were thrilled at our new additions. My parents, not so much. We gave the babies away, bringing our guinea pig family of four back down to two.

My parents separated Spence and Broccoli, forcing them to live in different cages, and forbade us from uniting the star-crossed guinea pigs. For their part, Spence and Broccoli exchanged longing looks and kissed through the metal-wired gates. We were stuck in the middle: We knew they were destined to be together, and it was killing them—well, killing us—to see them apart.

Guinea pig wearing a hat and carrying a rose in his teeth
Illustrated by Katherin Streeter

So one evening while my parents were out, the babysitter asleep on the couch, my sister and I saw our chance to orchestrate a reunion. We put Spence in Broccoli’s cage, and they ran toward each other, as fast as guinea pigs can run, which, sadly, is not very fast. But still, it was an emotional reunion. We had no idea how emotional until about two months later, when we were blessed with three more guinea pig babies. My parents were not amused.

After the birth of the triplets, my parents began to realize that our starter pets were probably more work than having a dog. The two cages took up a large space in our living room and needed constant cleaning, as did the area directly around the cages (guinea pigs do not have the best aim).

On my 10th birthday, my parents surprised me with Comet, a cocker spaniel puppy. Dana and I were ecstatic. We’d grown a little bored of Spence and Broccoli and their inability to fetch a ball or catch a stick in their mouths. They were relocated to the basement until we found them a new home.

I forgot all about them, until a few years ago, when I was going through some files and found a picture of our old pals. They were sitting on a Barbie bed eating lettuce with, I like to think, the hint of a smile on their furry faces. I was filled with a renewed appreciation for everything they taught us about caring for a pet. Broccoli and Spence are long gone now, but if there’s an animal heaven, I’m sure they’re in it. And they’re not in separate cages.