Broccoli / Calabrese
Often termed "broccoli", this is actually calabrese. Tastes very similar, but in season at a different time and you cook it slightly differently. Heads are green or (more unusually) purple.
- In Season?
- In season (approx) from August to November
- Buy heads with compact florets – avoid anything starting to show yellow flowers, and look for firm rather than rubbery stems
- In the salad compartment of the fridge
- Not really. You can blanch and freeze, but it goes mushy when you cook it afterwards.
- Break into florets. Wash well (looking for caterpillars!). Boil or steam for 5-8 minutes, depending on floret size and your preferences. Woody stalks make great soups or stocks.
More Broccoli / Calabrese Information
Broccoli is a member of the brassica family. The plant produces green flower heads on thick stalks. They are picked and eaten before the flowers bloom.
Broccoli and calabrese are often confused. One is the large headed variety. The other is a sprouting variety, with individual stalks for each flower clump.
Few people we know can remember which is which. So we won't confuse!
It's a pity that kids don't seem to like it, because it's a good source of vitamin C and many other vital nutrients.
If your little ones really won't eat it, it might be the texture - sometimes they find the flowers break up in the mouth and are hard to chew. Or it might be the way it's cooked... If it's too soft, it can have a slimey texture. If it's too hard, they might not enjoy crunching it.
For toddlers, try pureed broccoli with potato and cheese.
For older kids, you could try it in soups such as broccoli and Stilton soup. Anything to disguise the texture, but get them to accept the taste!
If that still doesn't work, then it's probably best to give up for a while, rather than making too much of an issue of it - otherwise they'll never eat it, just to spite you!
The best way to enjoy it is either raw (broken into florets and used with dips, for example) or steamed - lightly cooked to preserve the nutrients.
If you're a die-hard hater of broccoli, it's probably because it's been overcooked too often in your presence - or over-salted during cooking. Once it reaches the state of salty, squidgy mass, it's kinda hard to like it!
For me, it's one of the vegetables that restaurants and pubs rarely do well as it can be so easy to over-cook it, if you're not concentrating... ;-)
What To Do With Broccoli / Calabrese
Break the broccoli into florets and wash well - to avoid adding the occasional organic caterpillar to your dinner.
Florets can be eaten raw, as crudites or in salads.
If you cook broccoli, it's best steamed, to preserve the vitamin C. If you boil it, try using just an inch or so of water and covering the pan with a lid. This way you're boiling and steaming, so it cooks quickly, with less water and less vitamin loss.
Little Known Broccoli / Calabrese Facts
- Broccoli is mentioned in cookery books as long ago as Roman times, when it grew wild. But its commercial cultivation in Europe can be traced back to the early 1700s.
- Broccoli heads are actually immature flower heads! When they’re past their best, they open up into a myriad of tiny, yellow flowers.
- Allegedly, on March 18th 1990, President George W. Bush had broccoli banned from Air Force One. A few days later Apio Produce and the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association sent 20,000 pounds of fresh broccoli from California to the White House, to try to persuade the President to reconsider. The broccoli was donated to local food banks.
|Broccoli And Peanut Butter Soup|
|This might sound like a strange combination, but it works really well. You can use mature broccoli heads or sprouting broccoli for this recipe – whatever you’ve got to hand.|
Serves 4 as a side dish
About 30 minutes
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This might sound like a strange combination, but it works really well. You can use mature broccoli heads or sprouting broccoli for this recipe – whatever you’ve got to hand.
- Cracked Bulgar Wheat With Broccoli & Cream Cheese Sauce
This is a lovely recipe which makes a great lunch.
Cracked bulgar wheat is easy to cook and is available even in supermarkets nowadays. If you don't have any, you can substitute couscous or quinoa.
This recipe works well with tenderstem broccoli (picked before full heads form) or purple sprouting broccoli, later in the year.
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I think the picture says it all!
I came across this idea last year - thanks so much to Laura at Feeding Frenzy for the photo.
- Jo Pratt’s Thai Pumpkin and Tenderstem® Red Curry
This recipe has been generously provided for us by Jo Pratt, courtesy of Tenderstem Broccoli..
Although Jo uses pumpkin, you could easily substitute in any Winter or Summer squash that happens to be in season.
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This recipe was submitted by Sarah Pond, a member of the Ooffoo community, as an entry to the 2009 Recipe Prize Draw. Thanks Sarah!
- Romanesco Cheese
Use your favourite cheeses in the sauce for this recipe. It's important that it has a good flavour, or it will taste bland against the romanesco. This recipe also works well with broccoli or cauliflower.
- Spicy Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta
This pasta recipe, generously provided for us by Abel & Cole, gives a welcome kick to purple sprouting broccoli or "PSB".
- Spring Pasta
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This recipe also uses sunflower or walnut oil in the dressing (high in essential fatty acids), so it's a super-tasty, super-healthy meal.
- Sprouting Broccoli With Toasted Sesame Seeds
This takes literally a couple of minutes to cook and tastes delicious. Stir frying is a great way of preparing fresh, young sprouting broccoli and the flavour goes really well with the sesame seeds and tamari.
- Sweetcorn, Spinach and Broccoli Tortilla
This delicious recipe takes less than 10 minutes, making it an ideal after-work meal. You'll want to make 2 per person and they're light, but filling.
Experminent with adding other seasonal veggies like peas.
Got one? Send us your recipe!
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