Whenever I find myself within a mile radius of Daily Provisions, the Danny Meyer-owned Manhattan cafes in NY, I do whatever it takes to get there, even if it’s just to pick up a cup of coffee. I love the neighborhoody vibe and the simple, comforting menu — breakfast sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, soups, everything fresh, everything executed exactly right. Last summer, when I was visiting my friend Lia nearby (ok about 20 blocks away from a DP Upper West Side location), I stopped in for lunch and ended up ordering a broccoli melt — crispy roasted, garlicky broccoli under a blanket of melted manchego, sandwiched between two slices of fresh focaccia. That was June and I’ve been dreaming about the thing ever since, I’m not kidding. My opportunity to replicate it finally arrived over vacation when I found myself in decidedly lucky circumstances: I had about half an Ali Stafford viral focaccia in my kitchen.
(The focaccia takes 24 hours, but it’s my kind of kitchen project, requiring about 2 minutes of stress-free hands-on time. It goes without saying that you can use store-bought for this as well.) If the goal of going plant-based is not only to eat less meat, but to eat more vegetables, well, this is Exhibit A in how you get that done. It would be just as good for an easy dinner as a quick weekend lunch. Especially since it’s one of those things that doesn’t really require a recipe. Here’s how you do it:
Heat oven to 425°F and prep broccoli: This above is enough broccoli for one sandwich so double or triple or quadruple accordingly. (I’d say two medium broccoli bunches for four sandwiches.) Toss with olive oil so every floret is coated, but not glistening. Season with salt, pepper, and a dash of red pepper flakes.
Add a lemon half to the baking sheet and bake until broccoli gets nice and crispy, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, warm halved foccacia (cut side down) in a lightly buttered skillet set over medium heat.
Remove from oven, squeeze roasted lemon juice on top (it’s hot, use tongs or an oven mitt), then cover with this much cheese. (This is cheddar because I didn’t have manchego and was, obviously, delicious. But if you’re going out shopping, pick up the manchego.) Broil for another 2-3 minutes, until cheese has melted.
Rub a halved garlic clove over the warmed bread, then heap the broccoli mess (which will be held together somewhat by the cheese) in between. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
P.S. An ode to the broccoli lovers in my house which includes this more-veg-than-chicken chicken salad.