This comes from NW Chef Joshua McFadden’s book “6 Seasons” and works well as both main dish and a side. Now, in full confession, we made this at the beginning of winter and that wasn’t the appropriate one of the six that we should’ve been enjoying this in (that would be “late summer,” apparently) – so, for that, we apologize. It’s easy to make and very filling with some bread to accompany (see below for an easy garlic bread addition). And the anchovy adds a wonderfully subtle layer to the taste, even if you don’t like anchovies.
For dinner for 2 or a side dish for 6 you’ll need: x2 heads of broccolini (stems trimmed), x2 garlic cloves (crushed and peeled), x7 or 8 anchovy fillets, x1 14 oz can whole or chopped tomatoes (if you use the whole, chop them a little in the pan), 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (dial up of down depending on your spice enthusiasm), about 1/2 lb mozzarella (sliced about 1/4″ thick), olive oil, salt and pepper.
First, place the mozzarella slices in a single layer on a cutting board on top of some paper towels and cover with another layer of paper towels. Then place another cutting board or baking tray on top. On top of this, place a large pot or pan or something heavy to gently squish the slices and take out some of their moisture.
In a skillet over medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and the whole, crushed and peeled cloves of garlic and gently toss until lightly browned – about 2-3 mins. Smash the garlic gloves gently with the back of a wooden spoon and swish around in the oil – they cloves should break up into a paste easily.
Add the anchovies and break them up with the back of a wooden spoon as well creating a garlic/anchovy paste in the oil. Don’t cook to long, maybe a minute or two.
Add the broccolini, salt, pepper and the crushed red pepper and cook over medium heat until they just start to wilt and the stems just begin to soften – about 5-7 mins.
Add the tomatoes and mix everything well. Increase the heat slightly and cook until the tomatoes turn into a paste (as opposed to a sauce), stirring well, about 8-10 mins.
Turn on the broiler in the over and transfer the broccolini/tomato mixture into a high sided casserole dish. Spread the mozzarella slices evenly over the top and place under the broiler until just brown – about 3-5 mins. Make sure you monitor the broiling closely as you don’t want it to burn – and it will!
Remove from oven and serve with crusty and/or a nice, oily garlic bread*.
*And easy way to make great garlic bread is: slice a baguette lengthwise into 6 to 8″ long slices and drizzle oil over the top. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until just brown – about 2-3 mins, tops. Remove from heat, crush a garlic clove or two with the side of a knife, and then gently rub the crushed garlic all over the toasted baguette. If you want, add another touch of olive oil and some sea salt over the top just before serving.