When a Minnesotan schedules something in winter, they know it comes with the risk of snow impeding plans. I had been looking forward to spending a day cooking and gabbing (a Midwest term for a mix of talking and laughing) with my sweet friend Brenda of A Farmgirl’s Dabble. Our largest snowfall came down boldly the night before, but having lived in these parts all my life, I wasn’t too worried about “skating” out to the cozy little town of Lake Elmo, where she and her family live. In fact, I was super excited to see the countryside in all its fluffy, white glory and spend a snow day with my best friend, similar to the joy I had felt about situations like this when I was younger.
Brenda is a gem. True and kind, always supportive, and even though we have differences, I’ve always felt close to her since meeting 5 years ago…. Connection, shared sensibilities, honest opinions and a love for wholesome food that has heart.
We had talked a little about what we were going to make beforehand, our main ingredients being roasted broccoli and white beans, fresh lemon and herbs. It sounded so comforting and flavorful, yet fresh and bright – a perfect match for an easy winter meal. Upon arriving, Brenda’s big smile greeted me and as we walked into the kitchen she said, “I think I have one more ingredient that we should add”.
She reached for a brown parchment paper covered slab, and opened it to reveal thick, double smoked bacon from the local butcher that she knew was my favorite – my weakness actually. I’d fallen hard for it last year after she brought it to brunch at my house, and graciously left an extra package of of, which was eaten happily the next day.
It didn’t take us long to fire up the oven, pour a cup of coffee, and pretend like what we were doing was work. We tasted and tweaked, stood on ledges to shoot pictures, and fell in love with this off the cuff recipe we had developed.
When we had gotten it just right, the kitchen was silent with smiles and that “whoa, this tastes good” reaction. From the charred broccoli, to the soft and silky white beans, to the garlic and shallots that get sautéed in the salty bacon drippings….. At the end, a splash of lemon, crack of black pepper, and fresh parsley brightening every element.
It’s a dish you’ll be able to make from memory, and can be on the table in less than 45 minutes. Serve it hot or room temperature, as a side dish or a main, change it up with roasted cauliflower, or basil instead of parsley.
Just be sure you don’t skip the bacon, and a girlfriend to share it with. They feed our souls in a way that other relationships can’t. Enjoy this recipe, and also a little glimpse into Brenda’s kitchen. xo
- 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets (3/4 pound)
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ pound thick cut bacon (5 slices), cut into small matchsticks
- 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, drained
- 1 medium shallot, chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ medium lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper