IN SEASON: BROCCOLI
Broccoli is a power packed super food. Not only is it nutrient packed but its low in calories and can be eaten in its entirety, stalk and all. Steamed, sautéed, roasted or raw, you will love eating it and your body will thank you for it. So if this vegetable isn’t already in your rotation, its time it is. Grab a few bushels and fall back in love with this hearty, green nutrient packing machine!
Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family and is a robust vegetable. Broccoli has a tree-like shape with a stalk that ends in a tight cluster of buds. The florets of the broccoli are soft while the stem is crisp and fibrous. Broccoli can vary from dark green to purple green in color depending on the type of variety. Broccoli can be eaten both cooked and fresh and can be found both frozen and in its raw state in most grocery stores.
Broccoli can be found year round in grocery stores, however its peak season is from October -April.
What to Look For:
When purchasing broccoli make sure that it has a strong green color and in some cases a purple green color depending on variety. Avoid broccoli that has yellow blossoms, are bruised, slimy or that have wilted leaves attached. The florets should be dense clusters and the stalk should be firm, thin and a lighter green color than the buds. You should be able to easily pierce the stem with your fingernail.
Broccoli contains more nutrients than any other vegetable. Some of the antioxidants found in broccoli include vitamin C and beta carotene which can reduce risks of certain kinds of cancer and heart disease. It is also high in fiber, calcium and folate. Broccoli is an immune system booster, builds bones, helps to fight birth defects and can lower incidences of cataracts. Broccoli is a very healthy vegetable, containing only 23 calories per 1/2 cup.
How to Store:
Broccoli can be stored in a plastic bag for up to 4-6 days. Do not to wash your broccoli before using it and keep it dry while stored to prevent spoilage. Storing broccoli at room temperature will cause it to become rubbery. Broccoli needs circulation when stored so do not place raw broccoli in an airtight container while refrigerated. Your broccoli will taste better the sooner it is used.
To freeze broccoli, begin by blanching it in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Remove broccoli and submerge in an ice bath until cool. Remove and drain well. Place it in an air tight container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.
Roasting broccoli is a delicious and easy way to enjoy this vegetable. For perfect roasted broccoli, start with 1 pound of broccoli. Cut the florets off of the broccoli and cut the stem into thin rounds. Toss the broccoli in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3-4 cloves chopped garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt. Spread the broccoli in one layer onto a parchment lined baking pan in a 425 degree oven. Roast for 8-10 minutes until the broccoli is just tender and starting to brown around the edges.
To speed up the cooking process, cut lengthwise slits in to the stems of the broccoli
Overcooking your broccoli will cause it to lose important nutrients
Broccoli leaves are edible
Broccoli is healthiest when eaten in its raw form
If you are planning to cook with the stalk of the broccoli, start cooking them about 2 minutes before the florets
Peel the exterior of broccoli with a stalk that has a diameter greater than 1 inch
Broccoli can be used interchangeable in most recipes that call for broccolini and cauliflower
Plunging broccoli into an ice bath immediately after steaming will help stop the cooking process, preserve its color, flavor and nutrients
Looking for broccoli recipes? Give these a try:
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*