Broccoli is a multi-purpose vegetable that is a healthy addition to many dishes – fresh or cooked.
Crisp florets and tender stems make broccoli a favorite vegetable for salads and stir-fries as well as dipping, boiling and steaming. While related to cabbage and cauliflower, broccoli's milder, less earthy taste also makes it a terrific addition to soups and casseroles. The tiny tips of each floret are actually the buds of the plant.
“Sprouting” broccoli, also known as Calabrese, is the most common.
Other varieties and hybrids include:
Broccolini– This is the trademarked name for baby broccoli - a cross of broccoli with Chinese kale.
Purple – Smaller in size; no difference in taste.
Broccoflower/romanesco – Cauliflower and broccoli cross. Looks like the former – only green – and tastes like the latter.
Chinese broccoli – Also called Chinese kale, Gai Lan, and white flowering broccoli.
Frozen broccoli is available as florets or chopped. Broccoli sprouts may also be found in some health food markets.
• Peak season for best pricing is typically in cooler months. However, newer cultivars are successfully producing in warmer months.
• Look for crowns of solid green (or those with a hint of blue or purple). Avoid yellow or wilting broccoli or those that have already begun to exhibit open buds.
• Thicker stalks are tougher.
• Broccoli will keep for about seven days in the refrigerator. Allow for air circulation.
• Fresh broccoli will freeze well; blanch first and it will keep for about twelve months.
• Always remove wilted or yellowing sections.
• Soak first to dislodge debris and insects.
• When using in a stir-fry, add broccoli first to be sure it is cooked. As an alternative, parboil ahead of time.
• Even if serving fresh in a salad or as a plain side, blanch first.
• The stalks are very tasty, but may take longer to cook. Separate from florets and trim the outer layer. Slice and add to boiling or steaming water first.