Broccoli - calabrese and sprouting

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family. It originated in Italy, and its cultivation and use has spread throughout the world. Broccoli comes in many sizes, shapes and colours – green calabrese heads that we see cling wrapped in the supermarkets; purple yellow or white sprouting broccoli shoots. The season for broccoli extends pretty much throughout the year with early and late varieties of calabrese and sprouting shoots.

Nutritionally, broccoli scores highly. It contains Vits A, B, C, E, folic acid, beta carotenes, fibre, protein, zinc, selenium, manganese, tryptophan, potassium, phosphorus, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, plus sulphur phytochemicals such as sulphorane and indoles. All of which have positive health benefits.

Health benefits of broccoli: Studies have shown the organosulphur compounds in broccoli have cancer preventive effects on breast, prostate, stomach and skin cancers. The carotenoids lower the risk of cataracts, and the calcium is good for bones and teeth. The folic acid is beneficial to the developing foetus, and the beta carotene, zinc and selenium boost the immune system. The flavinoids have anti oxidant properties, and are also good for the cardio vascular system. All in all, a superb vegetable. Nutritious and delicious!

Broccoli basics

Choose heads that are fresh, firm, and not bursting into flower – that is, no little yellow petals appearing. Broccoli is highly perishable, and should be stored in an open plastic bag in the fridge, and used as fresh as possible.

Eat cooked or raw. When cooking, prepare the stalks fist, maybe cook them for a few minutes before adding the heads. Slice, split or chop the stalks, steam for 5 minutes, add the heads, steam for a further 5 minutes. Don’t microwave broccoli – or any veg for that matter, as microwaving destroys up to 90% of the anti oxidant compounds and damages other nutrients.

All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves of broccoli and cauliflower concentrate the nutrients, and should be eaten, not wasted! Broccoli seeds can be sprouted to produce an excellent concentration of all the nutrients in the plant, in a very small easy to eat package – add broccoli seed sprouts to salad, or sprinkle on a sandwich.

Sprinkle lemon juice and sesame seeds over lightly steamed broccoli.

Toss pasta with olive oil, pine nuts and steamed broccoli. Season to taste.

Puree cooked broccoli and cauliflower, add seasonings, for a simple soup.

Broccoli Recipes

  • Sweet and Sour Fish with Cabbage and Broccoli
  • 1 med onion, sliced
  • 500 gm white fish   
  • Sauce:
  • 3 tbspn soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 500gm cabbage, shredded
  • 125ml wine or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbspn fesh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbspn fresh coriander
  • 2 tbspn honey
  • 3 tbspn veg stock
  • 500gm broccoli
  • Salt and pepper, sesame seeds
  • Salt & pepper

Mix together sauce ingredients. Simmer in small pan for about 15 mins to reduce volume. Set aside and leave to intensify flavour.

In the meantime stir fry onion in either oil or stock, add garlic, ginger, fish and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add broccoli, stir fry 2 mins, add cabbage, stir fry 2 mins.

Add sweet n sour sauce, coriander, salt & pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with rice.

Broccoli Quiche

Lay lightly steamed broccoli in the pastry case before adding the egg mix. Use small florets of calabrese, or trimmed pieces of sprouting broccoli. Don’t waste the leaves of the sprouting – use these in the quiche, or save and stir fry with other veg and seeds.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheesey bake.

  • Cut broccoli and cauli flower into medium sized pieces, and steam, including the leaves.
  • In the meantime, make a white sauce, using butter and milk, margarine and soy milk, oil and rice milk – or whatever combination suits your taste! Season well, adding a touch of mustard powder.
  • Place the lightly cooked broccoli and cauli in an oven proof dish, pour the sauce over. Sprinkle with grated cheese – any type will do. A mixture of cheddar and red Leicester looks especially good.
  • Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes or so until the top is crisp – or place under a grill.

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