Broccoli: Versatile, Good for You, and Tastes Great

Broccoli: Versatile, Good for You, and Tastes Great

When it comes to a vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, it’s hard to beat broccoli. This tree-like vegetable is actually a flower, belonging to the same botanical family as cabbage. It is most prominently grown in early spring and late summer. Large heads can be found very inexpensively at farmers markets.

Best eaten raw or lightly steamed for maximum health benefits, broccoli is a nutritional winner and a sure family favorite.

This post is sponsored by Garden Spot Vegetable Farm. Located in Princeville, Illinois, owner, Jim Buckley and his family, cultivate 34 acres of vegetables and 375 fruit trees. Garden Spot is a no-spray farm, offering a variety of CSA packages. Check their Facebook page for current programs and options for available produce.

Nutrition

Many people do not realize that plants contain protein. In fact, in a calorie for calorie comparison, broccoli will give you more protein than steak. Yep, it’s just that good for you.

But, the benefits don’t stop there. When you eat a serving of broccoli, you’re also getting a healthy dose of fibre, carbs, iron, and vitamins C and K.

It’s no wonder that broccoli is often listed as a superfood.

Picking the best bunch

Broccoli should have tightly packed florets with an even dark green coloring. The ends should appear moist, not dried out or brittle. Browning stems or yellowed leaves means that the plant has been out of the field for a longer period of time than is optimal.

Storing and Freezing

It is best to place broccoli in the refrigerator. However, don’t wash it first. This will speed up the deterioration process. Simply wrap it in a damp (but not soaking wet) paper towel and place it in the crisper. It should stay fresh up to five days.

Broccoli is easy to freeze and will keep fresh for up to 12 months. You will need to blanch it so that it retains its beautiful green color. Blanching also helps stop the deterioration of the plant and allows it maintain its texture even when frozen.

Here are simple steps that you should follow. Wash, cut off the florets, plunge them into boiling water for 4 minutes. Remove them and immediately submerge in an ice water bath to stop the cooking action. Cool, pat dry, and place in labeled freezer bags.

You’ll find a step-by-step tutorial for flash freezing produce with photos in this post.

What broccoli parts can be used?

All of it!

That’s right! You can eat the leaves, the stalk, and the florets. If you are going to cook with the stems, it is often necessary to use a knife to pare away the tougher outside layers of the plant. However, the tender interior makes a wonderful addition to soups and can be grated and used to make a delicious vegetable au gratin.

Recipes

Broccoli can be the starring ingredient in any meal of the day, from frittata for breakfast, salad or soup for lunch, or any number of main dishes, appetizers, or side dishes for supper.

Main Dishes

Side Dishes

Salads

Soups

Pictured: Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup

Appetizers

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