July 1, 2012

BREAKING: Supreme Court Backs Mandatory Broccoli Act

WASHINGTON - In a close 5-4 vote, the United States Supreme Court has backed President Obama's Mandatory Broccoli Act. In an unprecedented act of bipartisanship, the swing vote was cast by Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President Bush as a "card-carrying carnivore." Few thought Roberts would be the one to show his "green, stalky side" in this case. But he sided with the liberal members of the court, and Democrats hailed the decision as a monumental moment in American politics.

"I'm proud of Johnny [Roberts]," remarked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Just because he wouldn't be caught dead eating a raw broccoli salad salad with fresh cherry tomatoes and ricotta salata, that doesn't mean he thinks it's unconstitutional to require other Americans to do so."

The bill was hotly contested between Democrats and Republicans, which passed through congress last year after months of negotiating between party leaders. Obama had initially pushed for a Mandatory Broccoli and Arugula Act, but right-wing senate leaders headed by Mitch McConnell were able to remove the wording which required arugula consumption by all Americans. 

"It's a disgrace to think Americans should be required to eat broccoli," stated Senator McConnell shortly after the broccoli bill passed through congress. "Seriously, that stuff's gross." 

But the matter was soon brought to the Supreme Court, who heard passionate arguments from both sides. While Democrats felt the bill was necessary in order for all Americans to lead healthy lives, Republicans argued it gave the federal government greater control than the Constitution permitted. 

"Just because every broccoli-head in Boston wants a bowl full of veggies for dinner," stammered Justice Scalia, referring to broccoli legislation instituted under Mitt Romney while he served as governor of Massachusetts, "it doesn't mean the bacon-loving people of Nashville should be forced to do the same. The matter should be left up to the states. It's simply unconstitutional."

But Scalia found himself on the dissenting side of the court. In the coming months, broccoli consumption will become the law of the land. 

"Have you seen Justice Scalia lately?" snickered Vice President Joe Biden at a recent press conference, "It might not be a bad idea to mandate that he eats a little more broccoli himself, if you know what I mean."

Government Mandated Broccoli Stem Salad
Serves 3-4 as a side

Steaming your broccoli is so 2011. Today, the different ways of preparing broccoli are endless. And that's a good thing now that all American will be required to consume it. You can saute it, roast it, make it into a soup, eat it raw - you name it. But this method uses a part of the broccoli that often gets overlooked: the stem. The stem is light and crunchy when sliced thin and served raw, almost like a seedless cucumber. I love using it as a light side for dinner in this salad.

Recipe below.

-3-4 stems of broccoli (florets removed)
-1/4 cup pine nuts
-1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
-1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
-2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-juice from 1/2 lemon
-zest from 1/2 lemon
-1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
-salt and pepper

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the stalky outer parts of the broccoli stems. If the lower part of the stem is tough and stalky, cut it off with a knife. The part remaining should be the consistency of a cucumber and light green or white in color. Slice the stems into small rounds as thinly as you can, about 1/8 inch thick. If you have a mandoline, you may want to use it for this.

2. Heat a small saute pan on medium heat. Add the pine nuts to the dry pan and cook, tossing frequently, for about two minutes until they are fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. 

3. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced broccoli stems, toasted pine nuts, red onion, bell pepper, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, chili flakes, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mix well and serve at once.