Green tomatoes are here. I admit that I still struggle to find ways to use them. If you are in the same boat, check out one of my past posts for more information (click here). Note that it is an older post transferred from our old website so the formatting is off and I can’t figure out how to fix it but I promise it is still readable!
Broccoli is a highly popular vegetable in the United States, which makes it tough to write about. Because most folks like it they tend to know a lot about preparing it. So for many of you, this will simply be a refresher. However, I encourage you to look at the recipes, which might be a little different from anything you have tried in the past.
Not surprisingly, broccoli is a member of the cabbage family. But did you know that when you eat broccoli you are eating flowers? The highly prized florets are actually the buds of the flowering plant, harvested before they have opened up. Less valued, but nonetheless important, is the edible stalks, which contain a lot of fiber and nutritional value but are often overlooked and thrown away. One reason for this is that the stalks can be tough, especially if thick or aged. However, taking a vegetable peeler to the edges of the stalk can turn a once ignored possibility into a highly versatile vegetable.
Broccoli is considered one of the most healthful of foods. It boasts loads of fiber, calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, (among others) and it contains antioxidants and cancer fighting phytonutrients. It is also known for it’s ability to facilitate detoxification systems in the body.
Choose bunches of broccoli with tight, dark green florets and thinner, crisp-looking stems. Avoid bunches with yellowing, opened, or slimy florets and with limp or tough looking stems. To store, place unwashed broccoli in perforated plastic in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The longer broccoli is stored, the more nutrients are lost, so try to use it as quickly you can. Organic broccoli should be soaked in salt water for at least 5 minutes just prior to cooking or eating raw in order to remove little critters that might be hanging out in the florets.
One of our favorite ways to eat broccoli is simply steamed. Apparently, steaming does not leach out nutrients and it is a quick and easy method of preparation. Once steamed, broccoli can be tossed with any number of items. It is great with almost any salad dressing. It is also wonderful flecked with lemon zest and sprinkled with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
If you are bored of simply steamed broccoli, try roasting it for yummy, caramelized goodness. Preheat the oven to 400. Toss broccoli florets (with a bit of stem) with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast on a baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes (depending upon how crisp you like it). Uncover and turn pieces over. Continue to cook until crisp tender and parts are browned and caramelized. Finish with lemon zest and lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and/or Parmesan.
Broccoli is also a winner in stir-fries. Start cooking the broccoli before you cook the more tender vegetables in your stir fry to give it plenty of time to cook.
Try sautéing broccoli with onion and garlic, then adding vegetable or chicken broth just to cover, and cooking until broccoli is tender. Blend and serve as a delicious soup. Broccoli soup is great with other add-ins such as potato, leek, cheese, cream or milk, and/or bacon (sprinkle on at the end).
However you cook broccoli, be sure to stop the cooking before it gets really mushy and dull green, which is that point at which a number of key nutrients are lost. It can help to “shock” broccoli in an ice water bath after steaming it, to quickly stop the cooking process and to preserve its bright green color.
Broccoli and broccoli stems are also wonderful in raw preparations. Quickly blanched broccoli florets are fantastic on a crudité platter. Raw florets and stems are great in salads. I love the stems shredded and used in coleslaw. The food processor is an easy and quick way to shred broccoli stems. Just remember to take a vegetable peeler to the outer layers of the stems if they seem thick and/or tough.
Finally, don’t forget to use the greens. Use them like any other green in either raw or cooked form.
These tator tots are so good even your kids won’t care that there is broccoli in them. The recipe was adapted from Damaris Phillip’s recipe on the Food Network. The fact that they are baked and include broccoli makes them a lighter and healthier alternative to traditional fried tator tots.
Baked Broccoli Tator Tots Makes about 30 Tots
– 1 pound potatoes, peeled (all-purpose or red skinned)
– 2 1/2 cups Broccoli florets and stem pieces, (peel and roughly chop any stem if using)
– 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch, potato starch or all purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
– 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
– 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, (or 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese)
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut or olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425℉. Spray four 12-cup mini muffins pans with coconut or olive oil spray.
- Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by one inch. Place pot on high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-7 minutes or until potatoes are about half-way tender (this will take less time if using baby potatoes). Using a large slotted spoon or a small fry basket, remove potatoes to a colander and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place broccoli in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and cool for a few minutes.
- Once they are cool enough to handle, grate potatoes and place in a bowl (you should have about 2 1/2 cups). Finely mince blanched broccoli (if bits are not small enough your tots will not hold together well). Place broccoli in bowl with potatoes. Add starch or flour, garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast or Parmesan, and oil. Mix well.
- Place a scant 1 tablespoon potato mixture in each mini muffin cup. Press mixture down firmly. Spray tops with more oil spray. Place two pans on each of two middle oven racks and bake for 15 minutes or until bottoms of tots are obviously getting nicely browned. Remove pans from oven. Run a knife around the edges of each tot to loosen it from the pan. If the tots are holding together well, carefully turn each one upside down in its cup. If they seem too delicate, gently turn the whole pan upside down onto an unrimmed baking sheet. Place tots back in the oven (either on the baking sheet or in the muffin tim) and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned and crisp. Serve immediately.
If you still have some leeks left, this is a great recipe to try for using those broccoli stalks.
Leek and Broccoli Stalk Soup with Fresh Dill
– 4 medium leeks
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 teaspoons oil of choice, I used avocado oil
– 2 large broccoli stalks, florets cut off and reserved for another purpose
– vegetable or chicken broth, enough to cover vegetables (about 3 cups)
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– pepper to taste
– 2 tablespoons fresh minced dill
- Cut leeks where the white/light green area meets the dark green area. Discard dark green parts or reserve these pieces for making broth or compost. Slice the light green/white portions in half lengthwise, then cut each long piece into thin half moons. Place in a colander and rinse really well with cold water. Drain.
- Cut off about 1/4-inch of the tough end of the broccoli stalks (opposite where the florets were). Using a sharp vegetable peeler, shave off tough outer skin of broccoli stems as well as you can. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all. Then chop into 1/2” pieces. Set aside.
- In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add leeks and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks soften, about 8 minutes. Add broccoli stems and stir well. Add enough broth just to cover the vegetables (if you have too much broth, your soup will be runny and will need to be thickened by reducing after it is blended). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli stems are very tender, about 30 minutes.
- Take care when blending hot liquids, as steam build up can cause the lid of the blender to shoot off, causing a big mess. It helps to let the mixture cool somewhat before blending. Add broccoli leek mixture to blender (if you have a small blender, blend in two batches) You should not fill your blender more than 1/3-1/2 full of hot liquids. Start on a low speed and increase speed slowly to avoid accidents. Blend until completely smooth. Stir in dill and any additional salt and pepper, if needed, to taste. Serve or refrigerate for later service.
Asian Rice Bowl with Edamame, Sweet Peppers, and Broccoli Serves 4
– For dressing:
– 4 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
– 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
– 1 teaspoon low sodium Tamari soy sauce
– 1 teaspoon honey
– 1/2 teaspoon minced hot pepper
– 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
– 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– Rice Bowl:
– 1/2 cup forbidden black rice or brown rice
– 1 pint whole edamame, washed well and drained
– 2 cups broccoli florets, soaked for 10 minutes in salt water and rinsed then drained
– 1 med sweet pepper, cut into thin julienne
– 1 bunch radish greens, washed very well , dried in a salad spinner, and torn into bite sized pieces
– 4 radishes, thinly sliced, then cut into sticks
– 4 scallions, thinly sliced
– 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1. Place dressing ingredients in a tall container large enough to contain the handle of a stick blender. Blend until emulsified. (Alternatively, use a regular blender or shake well in a mason jar).
2. Cook rice according to package directions. Allow to cool.
3. In a large pot bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add edamame and cook for 2-3 minutes or until beans are crisp tender. Using a slotted spoon or a basket, remove edamame and drain. Add broccoli and sweet pepper to the same boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender. Pour vegetables into a colander and run under cold water to stop cooking and retain color. Allow to drain well. Once edamame has cooled off, remove beans from the pods and add them to the broccoli and peppers.
4. For each rice bowl, place rice on bottom of bowl. Top with radish greens then vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with radishes, scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with dressing on the side.