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How to describe what good cooking does for people?  Here is one cook’s way of saying it:  “Soul soothingness.”

Lots of recipes recommend themselves by promising to be time savers for the cook.  Broccoli and Black Grapes, like a little nursery rhyme, is simple throughout and memorable in the end.  It wants little time or effort to make but that is not of the essence when considering whether or not it has something to say for itself in terms of the personal benefits of good cooking.

Whether a recipe is quick and easy, a long labour of love or something in between, the stopwatch, while not unuseful in the kitchen, is a poor calculation of a recipe’s real value. If the cook who declared her beloved pastime salutary for the spirit comes nearer the heart of the matter that pinpoints what makes a recipe worth one’s while, a recipe referral for Broccoli and Black Grapes might read something like this:

To Whom It May Concern:  Because it is crisp, green and fresh, Broccoli and Black Grapes is well chosen to go alongside a rich, savoury autumn dish.  Nor will it be overpowered by something highly seasoned, since it has its own pungent bite.  With this recipe a cook will turn out something that is easy on the eye and pleasant to the taste.  This accomplishment will do her good…and good to those seated around her table.

Broccoli and Black Grapes (for 6 people)

An Invitation:  You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page.  Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.

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A Timing Note:  Broccoli and Black Grapes is ready in minutes and is best when made right before serving it.


  • 1 pound of Broccoli
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 4 whole, whole, dried Chile de árbol peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried red Chile flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons of Water
  • 1 cup of Black Grapes, halved and seeded
  • 2 Tablespoons of Honey


  • a Wok or a wide, flat-bottomed Pan
  • a Wooden Spoon or Spatula

1.  Divide the broccoli flowers from the main stems.  (The stems may be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated and used later for something else.)

2.  Heat the olive oil in the pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic, the whole chile de árbol peppers, the red chile flakes and the coarse sea salt and sauté, stirring, until the edges of the garlic pieces begin to show some golden color.

3.  Add the broccoli flowers and continue to sauté, stirring them about and mixing everything together, for about 2 minutes.

4.  Sprinkle the broccoli with the cumin and add the 2 Tablespoons of water.

5.  Continue to cook, stirring the broccoli around in the pan, until the water evaporates.

6.  Drizzle the honey over the broccoli, flipping the pieces of vegetable around as you would for a stir-fry.

7.  Add the grapes and quickly stir them amongst the flowers of broccoli.  Arrange the Broccoli and Black Grapes on the plates and serve at once.

A Note:  The idea for Broccoli and Black Grapes was suggested by a recipe adapted by theperfectpantry blog from The Farmer’s Kitchen cookbook (2012).

A Last Note:  This is a vegetable dish that complements very well the main course of Spicy Roast Quail on Baguette ‘Croûtes’ in the Lunch Menu: Fish and Chicks:  a Long, Leisurely Early Autumn Lunch.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012