Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies

March 29, 2017
Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies - An amped up broccoli with a punchy vinaigrette, creamy blue cheese dressing & an irresistibly crunchy, butter-toasted spicy crispy topping

Ar·ca·dia  är-?k?-d?-?

1. Region of Greece: in mythology the domain of the god Pan

2. Pastoral Paradise; an ideal of life in harmony with nature

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3. A 1993 play by Tom Stoppard concerning the relationship between past and present, order and disorder and the certainty of knowledge

4. The best coffee shop in Ames, Iowa

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Today, a continuation of a week-long series here at The Veggies

Liz Jeffrey and her husband Ryan are the geniuses behind Arcadia, one of Ames, Iowa's most loved coffee shops. Home to “The slowest cup of coffee in town”  Not only is their food comforting (mmmm .. Laksa soup and Sweet Potato Gnocchi), but the homey vibe makes you want to stay a while, have a turtle bar, and take a million Instagram pics

In Part I – They chatted about moving to Ames .. early experiences in the culinary world .. and her parent's funny reaction when she told them they were getting married

Ahead .. Liz shares her journey toward perspective .. why she doesn't take short cuts .. and a terrifying late-night robbery that would forever shape their business strategy

Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies - An amped up broccoli with a punchy vinaigrette, creamy blue cheese dressing & an irresistibly crunchy, butter-toasted spicy crispy topping

How did you know you wanted to open a restaurant? 

Ryan: Ever since working at the chocolate shop, we'd talked about opening our own place

His Dad also has his own company, so we'd defiantly caught the entrepreneurial spirit

Ryan:  My grandfather owned his own company and his father was an independent practice lawyer. My grandmother's father also owned his own company. It's second nature to us

— — —

Why a coffee shop?

Ryan:  We started roasting coffee at the chocolate shop, and that's really where I began learning about it.  Freshly roasted coffee (at that point) was a life-changing experience. It was such a different world from what I'd grown up with. So I started roasting my own coffee at home.

I'd never liked coffee

Ryan:  The initial concept for Arcadia was on the bakery side.  It wasn’t until well into the thought process that we added coffee

The original idea was a dessert shop (confections).  Just bakery and chocolate, because that's what I do. I like everything with chocolate

In culinary school, we had to create a business plan. I remember the day I said “Ryan, this math .. it isn't working. I don't understand how anybody ever makes money. This is never going to work!”

As it turns out, I was trying to pay rent every day, instead of once a month

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Why the name Arcadia?

Ryan:  It's one of my favorite plays

Which you bought and tried to read

Ryan:  Tom Stoppard is one of my favorite playwrights and Arcadia my favorite of his plays. I like the aesthetic implied by it. Kind of a pastoral beauty in nature. The prairie style of architecture, stone, wood, and a natural interface

Also, the name begins with an A. Which puts it at the beginning of an alphabetized list

Very important

— — —

What differentiates Arcadia from some of the other places in town?

We're super picky about flavors and style. So we do everything ourselves. Flavor comes from something that's homemade. For example, our mixes. We make our own mocha mix and hot chocolate. We make our own chai.

Another example,  syrup. My memory of coffee and syrup begins in Seattle with an 8 oz cup of coffee .. three of which were syrup. It didn't end very well. Therefore, when I was choosing syrups, I sought out those you wouldn't find at the grocery

I don't know of anyone else who does it that way.  Nobody takes two different things because you get all of one thing. Right?

But that's not what we do. We don't do it the easy way; I don't do shortcuts

Ryan:  We're also willing to take a different approach when it comes to running the business. For example, we'll never have just one person at the shop. This is from a safety perspective, as well as a working perspective

The dual control is very important. It's one of the reasons we weren't profitable for three or four years because it's something we insisted on

Years ago, Ryan’s aunt worked at a pizza shop in Iowa City. She never locked the door and one night she was in the back counting money at close. Somebody came in, injected her with something, and shot her.

Thankfully, she lived to tell about it.

Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies - An amped up broccoli with a punchy vinaigrette, creamy blue cheese dressing & an irresistibly crunchy, butter-toasted spicy crispy topping

Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies - An amped up broccoli with a punchy vinaigrette, creamy blue cheese dressing & an irresistibly crunchy, butter-toasted spicy crispy topping

Do you think this approach has helped or hurt your business? (Especially when it comes to coffee)

Not everybody knows we're the slowest cup of coffee in town

People who have a good experience or understand that .. come back. People who want that or know what pour-over is .. seek us out. A true story from a man we met at a party .. in fact, it might have been at Spaghetti Saturday. He came up to me and said

“Oh my God, Arcadia .. I have to tell you”

He'd come in and his coffee had taken forever. He was trying to get on the road to Des Moines. He was in a hurry and thought “I can’t believe this.” He was angry. He was angry at the process and at the ordering. He was angry with the paying and about waiting for his coffee

About halfway to Des Moines, he thought “Wow. This coffee is still really good.” By the time he got to Des Moines, he'd decided it was the best coffee he'd ever had. “Now I get it”

But about half-way through his first time in, he'd decided he was never going to stop again. In fact, he was going to tell people how awful the entire experience was. It was so far outside the norm that he didn’t want to have anything to do with it. That is until it occurred to him

“This is the best coffee I’ve ever had. Maybe there’s a reason”

Ryan:  We did put up on the letterbox sign once “Slowest Coffee in Town”

It was after him!

— — —

On Perspective

At some point, it struck me that I was doing the best I could. My heart, my soul, my blood, sweat, and tears were in this business. Some people would get it and some people wouldn’t.

I had to take a step back and say “that’s ok.”  I love being there.  It’s hard work.  It's a part of me. But it doesn’t define me. I've always said if the place burned down, I’d be sad for two weeks and then I’d find something else to do

( .. to be continued .. )

Photo Credit – Facebook – Liz with a future customer

One of the most request items on the menu? Grilled Broccoli with Blue Cheese and Crispy Berbere Puffed Rice

One of their signature dishes .. the grilled, smokey flavor really sets this broccoli apart. The magic? A punchy vinaigrette filled with spicy harissa and Sriracha, soy, lemon, and vinegar .. that Creates a wonderful contrast to the creamy blue cheese sauce

Irresistibly crunchy, butter toasted crispies to top it off

Bet you'll never want to eat broccoli the same way again!



ps:  You can read more about Liz and Ryan in Part I  |  Part III  |  Part IV  |  Part V  of the series

— — —

~ Adapted from Stephanie Izard, chef of Girl and Goat restaurant in Chicago

Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies


  • Blue Cheese Dressing
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz blue cheese, crumbled (smoked or Maytag blue cheese)
  • pinch of natural sugar (turbinado, or alternately brown sugar)
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (anywhere from skipping the red-pepper flakes altogether, to a strong pinch, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • pinch fine grain sea salt
  • ½ cup sour cream

  • Broccoli Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • cup minced shallots
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 ½ Tbsp harissa
  • Zest of ½ lemon + juice of ½ of a lemon (~ 1 ½ Tbsp)
  • ½ cup olive oil

  • Spicy Crispies
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp Broccoli Vinaigrette
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal

  • Grilled Broccoli
  • 2 pounds broccoli florets, cut into large pieces (with stems)


  • Prep the Broccoli
  • In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the broccoli until crisp-tender (~ 2 minutes)
  • Plunge the broccoli into a bowl of ice-cold water
  • Drain well and spread over a large baking sheet

  • Blue Cheese Dressing
  • In a small saucepan, warm the cream until hot (but not boiling)
  • Whisk in the crushed red pepper, natural sugar, and about a third of the blue cheese
  • Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese has melted
  • Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before folding in the sour cream, remaining blue cheese, and a pinch of salt

  • Broccoli Vinaigrette
  • To the bowl of your blender (or food processor), add all of the ingredients except the olive oil
  • With the blender on, gradually add the olive oil until incorporated
  • Season with a pinch of sea salt and a grind of freshly ground black pepper
  • Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, until ready to use (up to 3 days)

  • Spicy Crispies
  • In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter
  • Add the crisps, along with 1 ½ tsp of the vinaigrette
  • Toss to coat and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned (~ 3 minutes)
  • Season with a pinch of sea salt and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain

  • Grilled Broccoli
  • Pre-heat the grill or a grill pan
  • In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with half of the remaining vinaigrette
  • Grill the broccoli over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until the broccoli is lightly charred all over (~ 5 minutes)
  • Transfer to a plate

  • Assemble and Serve
  • Warm ⅓ - ½ cup of the blue cheese dressing, reserving any remaining for another use
  • Spread the blue cheese dressing on a platter and scatter the broccoli on top
  • Garnish with the spiced crispies and serve, passing the remaining vinaigrette at the table
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 311
Total Fat 24.2g
Saturated Fat 10.4g
Carbohydrates 16g
Fiber 4.1g
Sugars 5.5g
Protein 8.7g
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  • Reply Robin March 29, 2017 at 4:34 am

    That sounds phenomenal. Broccoli is a favorite in our house and I know they would absolutely LOVE this.

  • Reply Nina March 29, 2017 at 4:44 am

    I love the idea of a coffeeshop with good food! I often go in for coffee and then get hungry. I always hate it when there’s nothing to snack on. I’m sure if I lived in Iowa, I’d be here all the time.

  • Reply Alli Smith March 29, 2017 at 5:07 am

    The story of Arcadia is such a fun story to read. I love that they don’t take shortcuts and I would enjoy stopping by for a coffee. The broccoli looks amazing!

  • Reply Christy Maurer March 29, 2017 at 7:49 am

    That looks amazing! I really enjoy their story too. We all need to slow down and savor things more. Our world is SO rushed!

  • Reply Vera Bortolotto March 29, 2017 at 7:50 am

    5 stars
    These are some great recipe ideas! It is hard enough to get my kiddos eating vegetables. I think spicing up Broccoli is a perfect way of getting them to enjoy it.

  • Reply Shirley Wood March 29, 2017 at 8:20 am

    I love that you named your business after a favorite play and how cleaver to think of where the letter ‘A’ would put you on lists! Smart thinking!
    My goodness, I’m glad the aunt survived getting shot!

  • Reply Tamara March 29, 2017 at 9:08 am

    If I ever make it to Ames.. I’m going. I love pour-over coffee. I think the difference is INTENSE! I really appreciate the attention to detail. I’m a supertaster and bad coffee is not for me.
    That said, I also love this recipe. I opened the recipe so intrigued to find out what “spicy crispies” are. I think I can try that at home! Broccoli is my favorite veggie.

  • Reply Paula Schuck March 29, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Broccoli is so very good for you. Happily my kids love it too so we eat a fair bit of it. This recipe looks great and we love to grill veggies too. I will make note of this place and pop in if ever I am in the area. Thanks for another great story. Love this concept.

  • Reply Angelic Sinova March 29, 2017 at 9:59 am

    These Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies looks so yummy (and seems so simple to make!). I am in love with Broccoli! Even as a kid, I could eat broccoli all day long.

  • Reply Amanda Farris March 29, 2017 at 11:00 am

    This looks really fancy! The broccoli part looks like something I’d try!

  • Reply Roger Willis March 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    5 stars
    This sound delicious! My wife, daughter and I love broccoli. My daughter makes healthy choices
    when it comes to eating, and encourages us to do the same. Would like to try this recipe in the near future, as
    the “grilling season” is soon to be upon us!

  • Reply Jaime Nicole March 29, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    That looks so tasty – and what a great story. I love the little darkened bits that you get when you grill veggies – and I love the idea of the spicy crisps.

  • Reply Candy March 29, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Unfortuantely I would have pick a different dressing blue cheese isn’t a family favorite I’m afraid. Think I could serve this for our ladies night out and it would be a big hit.

  • Reply Betty March 29, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I love roasted broccoli but never had it with dressing or vinegarette. The spicy crispies will give the dish a nice crunch without overpowering the palate with the spiciness. I will definitely try this recipe!

  • Reply Kerri Olkjer March 29, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Good coffee is definitely worth the wait! This place sounds amazing. Definitely trying this broccoli recipe too. YUM.

  • Reply Pam March 29, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    I love that they make their own drink mixes at the coffee shop. If I wanted something from a pouch I would just make it at home.

  • Reply Annemarie LeBlanc March 29, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    5 stars
    This was such a fun read. I loved learning about how Arcadia came to be and if I am ever in the area, I would definitely stop by to savor the slowest coffee in town.

  • Reply Jacqui S March 29, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    5 stars
    This sounds really good. I love all the ingredients for the broccoli meal and it’s something easy to make. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Ricci March 29, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    I am not a big Blue Cheese fan but grilled broccoli sounds amazing!! YUM!!

  • Reply Elizabeth O. March 29, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    I love reading their story and I hope you put out more stories like this of local places. It sounds like they really know their coffee. But that broccoli over blue cheese is a winner as well. I would love to try and make it!

  • Reply Dawn McAlexander March 29, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    I like broccoli but I don’t love it. I think it is because of the flavor. I think this recipe might make it taste better to me. I should try it.

  • Reply Melanie March 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    I have trouble fixing broccoli in a way that I actually like to eat it at home. I always like it at restaurants better than I like it when I make it at home. I will have to try out this recipe and see if it helps me eat more of it at home.

  • Reply Rebecca Swenor March 29, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    5 stars
    This grilled broccoli over blue cheese dressing with spicy crispies sounds like something my family would enjoy. I will have to make this for them. Blue cheese dressing is something they love but I don’t like so I would leave that out for myself. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Reply Lindsey March 29, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    This sounds like a perfect warm hearty treat. The crispies however sound amazing, like something that I would just enjoy on its own as a delicious snack as opposed to bad sweets.

  • Reply Kiwi March 29, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    4 stars
    Wow what a new way to use rice krispies. Its kind of odd but I pinned it anyways why not?

  • Reply Ana John March 30, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Loved this story. This rice crispier is just amazing and grilled broccoli over blue cheese dressing with spicy crispies sounds like something my everyone would enjoy. Will try for sure 🙂

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus March 30, 2017 at 8:36 am

    I really respect that they didn’t cut corners when it came to their business and despite not making profit for three or four years, eventually their hard work payed off! Now that is inspiring. As for this recipe it looks delicious, I have some spare broccoli so I will be pinning this!

  • Reply Kita Bryant March 30, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Wow, this looks SO good! I love the spicy crispies addition. Adding a bit of spicy always gets me more interested in a recipe.

  • Reply Lisa Favre March 30, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    I absolutely adore broccoli but more than often, I hardly know how to use them – aside from being a simple side dish. I love this recipe and would love to try it out with kids. Your food photography is remarkable.

  • Reply Angie Rose March 30, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious! I’m growing broccoli in my vegetable garden right now, so I’ll definitely be saving this recipe to make sometime soon! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  • Reply Paula Bendfeldt March 31, 2017 at 6:44 am

    5 stars
    This looks like such a simple yet delicious veggie recipe. I would have never thought crispy rice cereal could be used to create a spicy and crunchy topping for savory dishes!

  • Reply Kristen March 31, 2017 at 7:32 am

    I great coffee shop with amazing food?!?! This sounds like a place I would love. This recipe looks amazing!

  • Reply kathryn Maher April 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

    5 stars
    Love this broccoli recipe as broccoli is one of my favourite super foods. Interesting the story behind the Arcadia coffee philosophy. Sometimes you just have to wait that little bit longer for true quality and workmanship. Arcadia are obviously very passionate about there vision and the quality of their coffee and it is paying off.

  • Reply Jennifer L April 2, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    5 stars
    Omg this would be a perfect side for a lunch. I love a good blue cheese dressing so you had me there. Definitely want to make those spicy crispies. yum!

  • Reply Sage April 3, 2017 at 2:37 am

    3 stars
    Broccoli is so very good for health, I love to have it once in a week. Thank you for sharing that lovely story i just enjoyed to read it.

  • Reply Claudia Blanton April 4, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    4 stars
    while I am not a fan of blue cheese anything, I am pretty sure, I could make it fit my palate by substituting it for ranch. Now with grilled broccoli, I am very happy with. I love that green stuff. Blessings!

  • Reply Wildish Jess April 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    My husband would probably eat the mess out of this! Love the crunchies!

  • Reply Jenn April 11, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    This sounds like a dish I would love. Broccoli is one of my favorites, and I am in-love with blue cheese. I have never even thought to put them together. This is making me hungry just thinking about it. Yum!

  • Reply Kimberley Jackson April 23, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    5 stars
    Oh, I love broccoli, and the pictures you posted of the dish just made my mouth water. I love this recipe and will certainly try it out as soon as I buy the ingredients I don’t have. So yummi, now I am getting hungy. 😀

  • Reply Emman Damian March 31, 2018 at 2:19 am

    5 stars
    Grilled Broccoli Over Blue Cheese Dressing with Spicy Crispies sounds really good! I usually eat broccoli in Chinese food or steamed as it is. This is a new fun way to eat your veggies! Yummy!

  • Reply Sigrid March 31, 2018 at 11:58 am

    5 stars
    Good for them to have started their own cafe. My husband has been brewing his own coffee, experimenting with different kinds over the years. I have convinced him to open a cafe but he’s not confident about it. (I know people who have opened cafes but who have less experience pffft).

    Anyway, I am inspired by the cheese dressing on the broccoli (but not blue cheese though hehe) Both my kids love broccoli and cheese but I wonder why I never combined both! Gee I should do that soon!

  • Reply Jennifer Prince March 31, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    This looks SO amazing and delicious!! I love blue cheese dressing and broccoli. The two together would be fab!

  • Reply Taty Barone March 31, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try it as soon as I will finish moving house! Also Broccoli and blue cheese are 2 of my favourite ingredients so…thumbs up!

  • Reply Ana Ojha March 31, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    5 stars
    I enjoyed reading the story of Arcadia and the interview of Ryan. My hubby loves broccoli and I bet, he is going to love your recipe. Though I’m not a big broccoli fan. Every time when we order pasta, my hubby eats all my broccoli!

  • Reply Razena April 1, 2018 at 7:36 am

    5 stars
    I love that the broccoli is served OVER the dressing because that’s exactly how I would like it. Easier and more appetizing to fork a broccoli floret and twirl it in the dressing.

  • Reply Sabrina April 1, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    5 stars
    their philosophic business idea is so interesting and their passion should be of example for many young entrepreneurs! I wish I can visit (also their) Arcadia one day

  • Reply David Allen Elliott April 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    5 stars
    It’s such a beautiful story about a small town coffee shop and the thing they do which they love, making coffee. Even if they didn’t love it at first, they learned it and worked at it, and made sure they gave it the kind of time and dedication that would make an excellent cup of coffee. And people who are like that make amazing things out of everything they do. The broccoli just sounds amazing. I will have to try this out.

  • Reply Laura Dove April 2, 2018 at 6:22 am

    5 stars
    Oh my god, I just drooled a little! I’m not a fan of broccoli but I LOVE broccoli and blue cheese soup, so this really is the best recipe for me to come across today! My kids hate broccoli and I need to eat more to show them how tasty it is!

  • Reply Anna Szoke April 3, 2018 at 6:17 am

    My dream is to have my own coffee place one day…but it’s a dream. Your broccoli recipe is also dreamy, but at least I can make it and enjoy.

  • Reply Idora April 12, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    5 stars
    I’m definitely going to try this recipe! I absolutely love broccoli and blue cheese so this recipe is right up my alley.

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