Everything You Need to Know About Broccoli
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family, making it related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. It is a dark green vegetable, which may sometimes have a purple tinge. It has tight clusters of tiny buds that sit on an edible stem.
Broccolini™ is a green vegetable similar to broccoli, but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. It tends to be more peppery in taste than broccoli.
Look for broccoli with a deep rich colour, and no signs of yellowing. The buds should be tightly closed, and the stalks should be firm with crisp leaves.
Yellow or flowering buds, wilting leaves and rubbery stems are all signs that the broccoli is not fresh.
Although broccoli looks like a sturdy vegetable, it is prone to spoiling – especially when wet. Unwashed broccoli should be stored loosely in a bag or a ventilated bag, in the crisper drawer of your fridge, for up to 5 days. It’s not recommended that the bag is air-tight because broccoli requires some air-flow to stay fresh.
To Freeze broccoli:
Chop the vegetable into bite sized pieces and blanch in hot water for 3 minutes. Then plunge into an ice bath for 30 seconds to stop the cooking process. Freeze in freezer bags or containers for up to 6 months.
Use a sharp knife trim off the very bottom of the stalk, which may be dry and hard. The rest of the stalk is sweet and crisp, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. If the outside of the stalk is tough, you can peel it away with a sharp paring knife.
Use a sharp knife to cut the head of the broccoli into equal-sized florets. They will look like little trees. Cut them starting from the stem end, through to the florets. This will create less mess than if you cut starting at the floret side.
Broccoli is easier to wash after it has been cut, as the water is able to get into all of the nooks and crannies of the vegetable. Place your cut broccoli into a colander, and rinse under cold water before cooking or serving raw.
Broccoli can be served raw, slightly cooked or fully cooked. It can be boiled, steamed, sautéed, battered and fried, stir-fried or roasted.
How to Boil: In a wide frying pan boil broccoli, covered in 1 inch of water until tender when pierced (approximately 7 minutes). Drain and serve.
How to Microwave: Arrange broccoli in a plate, with florets toward the center of the dish. Add two tablespoons of water. Cover, microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes. Let stand, covered for 4 minutes. Broccoli should be tender when pierced. Drain off any excess water and serve.
How to Steam: Use a pot or wok with a lid, or a steamer. In a pot/wok, pour water to cover the bottom and place food on top of a steamer basket or insert. Cover and let the water come to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cook your broccoli for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on your desired tenderness.
How to Stir-fry: Cut broccoli stalks and pieces into slices. Stir-fry up to 5 cups, using 1 tablespoon of oil for 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of liquid, cover and cook until tender-crisp (about 3 minutes).
If you only need the florets for a dish, do not throw out the stems. Peel them, blanch them for two minutes, and freeze them for up to 3 months. They can be used later in soups and stews. Alternatively, trim away the tough outer layer and eat the tender inner stalk raw while you are cooking!
- If you plan on using the stalks and florets in the same dish, begin cooking the stalks 1 to 2 minutes before adding the florets, as the stalks take longer to cook.
- The stems of broccoli are delicious in stir-fries and soups.
- Add chopped broccoli stems to a coleslaw or to boost your favourite recipes. Some ideas include meatballs or even cupcakes!
- Do not add acids like lemon or vinegar while cooking, as it will turn the broccoli a grayish-green colour. Add just before you’re ready to serve.
- Broccoli, broccolini™ , and cauliflower may be used interchangeably in many recipes.
- 1 pound of broccoli = 1 ½ cups sliced or chopped
Produce: bell pepper, cauliflower, chiles, leek, lemon, lime, mushroom, olives, onion, orange, potatoes, salads, scallion, shallot, spinach, sprout, squash, tomatoes, and watercress
Herbs & Spices: basil, chives, cilantro, coriander, curry, dill, ginger, parsley, sage, salt, tarragon, thyme, and turmeric
Other: almonds, butter, cashews, cheese (feta, cheddar, goat, paremsan, etc.), coconut milk, eggs, pesto, soy sauce, tahini, tamari, vinaigrette, vinegar, wine, and yogurt
Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked. It is often served raw with dip as an appetizer, or added to a salad.
Cooked broccoli is delicious served with lemon, butter, au gratin, or with a hollandaise sauce.
For a savoury side dish, try roasting broccoli and cauliflower with garam masala and olive oil.
Try adding broccoli for breakfast! It’s a terrific addition to an omelette or quiche. Try inserting a little steamed broccoli into our quiche recipe.
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, the nutritional value per 1 stalk (151 g) of raw broccoli using the daily recommended intake from Health Canada is: 225% of Vitamin C, 192% of Vitamin K, 14% of Vitamin A, 43% of folate, 14% of potassium, 13% of magnesium, 12% of pantothenic acid, 11% of riboflavin, 8% of iron and 6% of calcium. It is also high in lutein, an antioxidant that is reported to be beneficial for maintaining good eyesight.