Saturday, April 30, 2011

Damir's Broccoli.

All vegetables should be this lucky. © Ryan Schierling 
A neighbor who lives seven steps away and will knock on your door on any given weeknight, offering you samples of their best dinner creations, quickly becomes more than just a neighbor. They are family.

Living next door to Damir, there were many spontaneous evenings enjoyed over a shared grill and shared food. On other occasions it would just be someone making a quick trip across the courtyard to deliver a plate of something special – a little extra of a known favorite, or something new we thought the other would appreciate.

On one such night, Ryan was out on a photo assignment when I heard a knock on the door. The first thing out of Damir's mouth was "Is Ryan home? I have something I want him to try..." Damir handed me a small plate with some kind of meat tented in foil – that was definitely a Ryan thing – and with the other hand offered me a small bowl of broccoli which appeared to be enveloped in a white sauce of some kind. Ryan would be home shortly.

Excited that this gift included broccoli, one of my favorite vegetables, I decided to go ahead and try some of this new thing while it was still warm. It was amazing! The salty strength of feta, the tang of sour cream and fresh garlic turning broccoli into the most satiating of comfort foods. Seriously, it was about all I could do to not lick that little bowl clean... It was "just one more little bite" after "one more little bite" until the portion I had intended to leave for Ryan was whittled down to a mere forkful or two by the time he returned home. Considering the restraint that was required to leave that tiny portion in the bowl, it is little wonder that as soon as Ryan arrived I was begging him to try this – if only, at last, to save me from the temptation.

The next time we saw Damir we had to ask for details. No, turns out this isn't a traditional Bosnian recipe or an old family favorite. It's all Damir and simply divine.

I wasn't kidding when I referred to this as comfort food. I would put this right up there with a great baked macaroni and cheese most any day. Once, when I was really sick with some kind of flu thing, Ryan made this for me and served it with some fluffy mashed potatoes he'd whipped up. I still remember sitting in bed, holding that bowl and enjoying every bite of warm and tangy comfort.

The recipe below is a loose approximation of how it was described, and how we make it. Damir has tested this a few ways and is adamant that the fresh chopped garlic be added at the end, not sauteed with the vegetables. We heartily concur!

Damir's Broccoli

16 ounces broccoli (steamed fresh or frozen)
1 good knob of butter
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces feta cheese (fresh in brine), drained and roughly crumbled
4 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
salt to taste
a crack of black pepper

In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the broccoli. If you're using fresh broccoli, be sure to cut it into smaller pieces and steam it only until you can just pierce it with a fork before adding it to the saucepan. When the broccoli is both hot and tossed in the butter, add the sour cream, feta and garlic. Stir together and bring back up to heat with a little bubbling. Season to taste and serve at once.


  1. Um, what's a nob of butter? Must try. Soon. Looks delish.

  2. Good question, Stephanie! It's actually a "knob" - I took this opportunity to correct my spelling there. Thank you. It's roughly 2 tablespoons, or a walnut-size chunk. Nothing precise about it.


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