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Broccoli Spears with Crispy Cheese Crust
Side Dish
Print Recipe
heads broccoli
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp
red pepper flakes or chopped dried arbol chile (stemmed and seeded), plus more as desired for heat
1 ½ c
coarsely grated Parmesan, Asiago, aged cheddar, or Gouda Lemon wedges

In Food52 Any Night Grilling, Paula Disbrowe’s recipes are simple enough to fire up the grill every night—not just for big backyard cookouts. 

Like roasting, a grill enhances the vegetable’s natural sweetness and creates salty, crunchy browned bits that add an entirely different layer of appeal. When charred by the heat of a grill, brassicas like broccoli—particularly big, meaty stalks—offer a satisfying range of flavors and textures that warrant top billing. I prefer to grill large spears of broccoli because they’re easier to wrangle and fun to eat with a knife and fork, but you can use broccolini or large florets of Romanesco broccoli instead. After they’re branded with an initial char, the spears are transferred to a cast-iron skillet, covered with a blanket of grated Parmesan (or another aged cheese) and finished in a closed grill. The ambient heat melts the cheese and creates a crispy crust reminiscent of frico, lacy Parmesan crackers. Salsa Verde, Pickled Mustard Seeds, or Sumac Yogurt Sauce would be delicious additions to the plate.


  1. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high. Carefully wipe the preheated grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again. Preheat a cast-iron skillet for 10 minutes before cooking.
  2. While the grill heats, use a paring knife to trim the bottom inch or two from the stems and peel the stems. Slice the broccoli heads into long spears (the florets should be attached to a long portion of stem). Place any florets that break loose in a mixing bowl. Drizzle the spears with olive oil and season with salt, black pepper, and chile.
  3. Grill the broccoli over direct heat until evenly charred, 4 to 6 minutes per side, moving to indirect heat as needed to prevent the stalks from burning. Grill any small broccoli florets that break loose in the preheated cast-iron skillet, tossing often, until browned and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the spears to the cast-iron skillet and place on the grill grate over direct heat. Sprinkle with the cheese, close the grill, and cook until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Reprinted with permission from Food52 Any Night Grilling: 60 Ways to Fire Up Dinner (and More) by Paula Disbrowe, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Food52 Any Night Grilling

Paula Disbrowe

Book Cover