Much Anticipated Broccoli Blog!!!!
Written by: Romula of RHaw Creations
Don't know much about it, except that every kid growing up despised it. (Did not help when Cartoon Network released that classic Powerpuff Girls episode about Broccoli and how they had to defeat by eating it!)
But I was never a kid...ok, let me use the proper term...."child" (lol). I was never a child who had a bad relationship with this green stuff, especially when you slabbed some delicious SHARP (and I reiterate "Sharp") Cheddar Cheese which nicely melted on it. I could eat Broccoli for days.
Now, over the years of my adulthood, both great and chaotic, I lost my way with the Broccoli with the exception of the occasional anti-pasta salad that my good ol' Momma makes (and she ain't really "ol'"). It did not help that I had never really worked with this not-so-mysterious vegetable before. I find out that it was part of the cabbage family and that the beautiful vegetable has been around for 2,000 years. Yes, its been around for about 2,000 years which does mean that it was not a "naturally, wild grown" vegetable. I knew that it appeared in Italy, and was shipped around the world during the 1700s. This amazing green plant is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and so much more! Just some fun facts about Broccoli.
So you ask yourself, what does all of this mean? Why has Romula, taken the time to write about Broccoli?
Well, one of my favorite hobbies, is cooking! As if I don't do enough already, let's go ahead and add to my life my imagination of being the next Iron Chef (original Iron Chef). I am always writing to my actual chef friends about dishes I have made or picking their brains on the crazy combinations of food I create.
So when I was given a huge, chunk of Broccoli, straight from the farm, I asked myself, so excited to have this, "What am I going to do with this?" I had never seen Broccoli in what I considered it's natural state. I never knew Broccoli was so big, let alone that only the green "florets" (I am not sure if that is even the word to use, but it sounds right - feel free to correct me in the comments as your read this) were just a small part of the actual plant. The stalk was twice, if not, three times the length of the florets. I was so used to the "ideal store" Broccoli that immediately I thought to myself, "How do I use this entire plant for food and not waste any of it?"
First thought, steam it!
Perfect....but I had never steamed anything before. (Literally, was searching a bamboo rice steamer before this). So I ran to the local TJ Maxx and went straight to their kitchen goods. Persuaded my partner to buy me this metal contraption specifically for steaming inside of pots and ran back to the house to try it.
I cut the Broccoli florets from the stalk, filled my pot with water about 1/2 inch from the bottom. I placed the magical, metal contraption in the bottom. Amazingly, there were three legs for the metal contraption to sit on, so it was above the water line and formed a concave bowl for the Broccoli florets to sit in. It also [metal contraption] had a lever to pull up so you are able to remove it from the pot. Once setup, it was time to steam.
Bringing the water to a slight boil, place the Broccoli florets into the pot, on top of the metal contraption.
Cover the pot with a lid, and allow the Broccoli to steam for 20 to 50 minutes. (Can you tell I did not look up a recipe and this is just a "guestimation" from my personal experience).
Once Broccoli is nice and tender, pull the handle upward to remove from the hot water and place into a glass bowl for cooling. NOTE: Steam is extremely hot. Be careful lifting the lid off of your pot. Tilt the lid as you remove it away.
Season or garnish how you would like, and eat!
I should have kept the Broccoli water to use for something else, but I was not thinking at the time. Afterwards, I thought, maybe I could have used it for a base for smoothies or some kind of vegetable juice. Next time, I will see what I can do with that, because I guarantee there is a lot of good medicine sitting in that Broccoli water that I missed out on.
Now that I've gotten (I remember when that was not a word lol) past the easy steaming part of the Broccoli florets, let's talk about the STALK!!!!
There was at least 6 to 7 inches of stalk left over from the initial chop. It all looked edible to me, but I had no idea how to "fix it" into a dish. So I did some research and found the stalk was edible, and that there were many ways of utilizing it as a food dish. The first recipe I came across was the Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Stalks by Shelley from Two Healthy Kitchens. There were a plethora of other amazing recipes such as salads and soups, but this one stuck out the most to me.
To my amazement, I discovered that as you get lower to the thicker part of the stalk you have to cut away the outside as it is very tough. As I sliced and cut the stalk into smaller pieces (I'll post the actual recipe below), I did find that the closer I got to the thicker part of the stalk, the harder it was to slice. I trimmed away the thicker skin of the stalk and revealed the soft, tender core that matched the upper part of the stalk. I placed those pieces into my compost bag to put outside into my compost barrel. I discovered after the fact that I could have just peeled the stalk with a peeler which would have saved so much time! That's what happens when you don't read the instructions from beginning to end before cooking, haha!
Other than that, the plant was used entirely.
And the end result was fantastic! I added some of my touches to the dish, such as garlic powder (because I'm a garlic fiend lol). Below is the actual recipe I followed for guidance. Try it out if you'd like and let me know how it went (and head over to Two Healthy Kitchens to give them a like or save)!
Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Stalks by Shelley from Two Healthy Kitchens
2 cups peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/8" thick) broccoli stalks (see note)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (see note)
Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl (or directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet), toss broccoli stalks with olive oil, salt, and pepper, making sure that the broccoli is thoroughly coated and the oil and seasonings are evenly distributed. Spread broccoli slices out evenly on the baking sheet, making sure the slices aren't piled on top of each other.
Bake for about 13 minutes, until the broccoli has developed some roasted brown spots.
Remove broccoli from oven, stir and flip the broccoli, and then spread the broccoli back out on the baking sheet. Evenly top each broccoli slice with some of the cheese.
Return broccoli to oven and bake for about 2 minutes more, just until the cheese is melted and a little browned and bubbly.
Broccoli stalks: To yield 2 cups of slices, you will need about 4-7 stalks, depending on how thick the stalks are and how far up each stalk you use.
Peeling the stalks: We use a vegetable peeler to quickly and easily remove the tough outer layer of the stalks. The stalks tend to be tougher at the bottom and require little or no peeling as you get toward the top, where the florets were. We don't recommend putting the peels down your garbage disposal.
Parmesan cheese: To make this pasta recipe truly vegetarian, be sure to select a parmesan cheese made with non-traditional enzyme alternatives from microbes or fermentation, rather than the traditional rennet.
Make-ahead step: You can peel the broccoli stalks and slice the "chips" earlier in the day or even a day ahead. Wrap the slices tightly (so they don't dry out) and store them in the fridge until you're ready to finish the recipe.