Congratulations to Matt Jones, our first “daily special” winner of a $100 gift card for Real Canadian Superstore, home of Price Match for moms, see in store for details, and a Company’s Coming Cookbook. Email your recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org I’ve gotta tell you Matt – you had me at Italian.
ITALIAN BROCCOLI LOAF:
I would like to enter one of our family’s favourite quick meals! It’s about 30 minutes to make, and not very hard.
We have two little ones (11 months and 2.5 years), and we make all of their food – no jarred baby food or “toddler entrees”, so even when we need a quick dinner we always try to make something healthy, tasty and easily modified for the smallest one (her diet is still very low salt). This is one of my favourites, and can be modified depending on what you have on hand (hence the reason for the many “optional” ingredients!)
Italian Broccoli Loaf
2 medium heads of broccoli, chopped into small florets
1 lb meat (boneless skinless chicken thighs chopped in bite size peices, Italian sausage removed from the casing, or some seasoned ground pork work well)
2 cups mushrooms, cleaned & sliced (optional)
2 cups spinach, cleaned & chopped (optional)
Italian seasoning (if not using Italian sausage)
dried crushed chili peppers (optional)
1 cup grated mozzarella (optional)
1 large loaf of Italian, French, sour dough or other crusty bread, NOT sliced
Pre-heat oven to 350
1. In a large pan with a lid, cook broccoli over medium heat with about 1/2 inch water, stirring occasionally, but mostly leaving covered. If water runs out, add more. After a while, it should get a little mushy. Squish it with spatula or masher. Drizzle with olive oil, season to taste with salt & chili flakes (I remove some for my baby before seasoning). Continue to cook with a tiny bit more water until you have mashed soft broccoli. If you are using spinach, add it when you have about 4 minutes left, stir until well wilted.
2. While the broccoli is cooking, in another pan, cook your meat. If not using sausage meat, cook with a little olive oil and season to taste with Italian seasoning. If you are using mushrooms, add them to the meat and cook well. Drain fat/liquid from the meat/mushroom mixture (I usually set aside some meat and cook it without salt for the baby).
3. When the broccoli mix is cooked, add meat mix and stir until incorporated, if there is extra liquid, drain or cook off. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
4. While the broccoli is cooking, cut off the top of the bread (horizontally, like a lid). Carefully hollow out the loaf, being careful not to make any holes in the crust. Set inside bread aside for other use (we like to dip it in olive oil & balsamic vinegar).
5. Fill hollow loaf with broccoli/meat/cheese mix. Top with “lid”, and wrap loaf in tin foil. Bake until well heated, about 10 minutes.
6. Slice & serve!!
Also great with large crusty buns instead of the large loaf for individual servings!