What is Broccoli ?
The term Broccoli is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch, since it looks like a tree-like shape that features a head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. It has a mixture of textures. The stem and stalk are crunchy whereas the florets are soft. There are various varieties of Broccoli which can be distinguished from the colours which range from dark green to purplish green.A popular variety in North America is known as Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first originated.
It is more of an exotic vegetable in India and is being appreciated slowly and steadily all over the world for its flavour.
Blanched broccoli florets
In order to blanch Broccoli, first clean and trim the stem and stalks of broccoli. If desired, keep them intact while blanching. Keep water to boil in a stock pot. Once boiled, add the broccoli florets and allow blanching for a minute or till required. Remove and drain. Immediately place in chilled water. Drain and use as required. Use blanched broccoli in au gratins, stir fries etc.
Broccoli florets are tree shaped and attached to smaller stems which are then attached to a larger stalk. Broccoli florets are soft in texture as compared to the stems and stalks. Broccoli florets can be blanched, grated, chopped or sliced and used in recipes. Broccoli florets can be used whole in pizzas, pastas and au gratins. Chop and use to make savoury tarts etc.
Broccoli florets are tree shaped and attached to smaller stems which are then attached to a larger stalk. These stalks are crunchy in texture and take a little more time to cook than the florets. If using both in a recipe, it is advisable to chop and cook the stalks first followed by the florets. Alternatively, broccoli can be grated or blanched and then used in the recipe.
Chopped and blanched broccoli
Clean and chop the broccoli. Add this to a pot of boiling water and allow it to blanch for a minute. Drain and immediately plunge it in a bowl filled with chilled water.
Chopped blanched and pureed broccoli
Clean and chop the broccoli. Add this to a pot of boiling water and allow it to blanch for a minute. Drain and immediately plunge it in a bowl filled with chilled water. Drain, add a little water and blend in a mixer to a smooth purée. Puréed broccoli enhances the colour, taste and flavor, when mixed with flour to make a dough for parathas, rotis etc.
In order to chop Broccoli, first clean and trim the stem and stalks of broccoli. If desired, keep them intact while chopping. Place on the chopping board and make vertical slits lengthwise. Combine all these slits and make vertical slits across the length. You can finely chop or coarsely chop broccoli florets as per recipe requirements. Chopped broccoli can be used in fillings, for savoury flans, tarts etc.
Chopped broccoli stalks
In order to grate Broccoli, first clean and trim the stem and stalks of broccoli. If desired, keep them intact while grating. Hold the grater on one hand and the broccoli floret on the other. Place it on the bland end of a grater (thick or thin as required) and using the force of your hand push it downwards to induce grating. Grated broccoli can be used in soups, sauces and as fillings etc.
In order to slice Broccoli, first clean and trim the stem and stalks of broccoli. If desired, keep them intact while slicing. Place on the chopping board and make vertical slits breadth wise, at regular intervals. Sliced broccoli can be used as a topping on pizzas, and in curry sauces, pastas etc.
How to select
Purchase broccoli that is dark green in colour. A rich green colour indicates that there is a higher level of beta-carotene present. Avoid broccoli that is beginning to yellow since yellow color is a sign of the broccoli losing its nutritional value. The floret clusters should be compact and not bruised. The stalk and stems should be firm with no slimy spots appearing either on the stems or on the florets. If leaves are attached, they should be vibrant in color and not wilted.
Culinary uses of broccoli
Some people find broccoli a little bitter but nevertheless it is used in many recipes with other ingredients and make for excellent snacks. We've already seen the combination of broccoli and cheese works well in parathas but also works in Cheese and Broccoli Tikkis
. Broccoli can also be stuffed in potatoes and baked with a little cheese to make Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Red Pepper
. The same way, this broccoli mixture can also be stuffed into mushrooms.
· Broccoli can be steamed and served chilled in salads. Combine with a vinaigrette dressing or a French dressing for healthy salads.
· Broccoli is used in many cuisines as an accompaniment to main courses like braised or grilled meats, etc. Broccoli just sautéed in olive oil or butter, garlic and fresh herbs is a simple yet healthy accompaniment to have.
· Broccoli goes well with other ingredients like baby corn, mushrooms etc. Use this combination in stir fries, in pastas or even pizzas.
· Use broccoli along with almonds to make a creamy soup. This soup is a good way to intake protein and thus is beneficial for children and pregnant ladies.
· Combine broccoli, baby corn, spinach and other vegetables of your choice, cook in a thick creamy white sauce or red sauce. Pour in a baking dish, garnish with cheese and bake to make au gratins. You can also use lasagna sheets in this recipe.
How to store
Broccoli is perishable and should be stored in open plastic bag/ zip lock bags in the refrigerator where it will keep for a week. Leftover cooked broccoli should be placed in an air tight container and stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 2 days.
Health Benefits of broccoli
· Broccoli is loaded with beta-carotene which converts to Vitamin A once it is inside the body. This, then acts as an antioxidant. Beta carotene helps lower the risk of heart attacks, cancer etc.
· It is a good source of Vitamin C which boosts the immune system and fights off cancers and heart disease.
· It is loaded with calcium which promotes strong bone growth and prevents osteoporosis.
· It is rich in fiber which helps prevent constipation, heart disease, obesity etc.
· I3C can be found in broccoli. I3C lowers the levels of harmful estrogen that promote tumor growth in hormone-sensitive cells. It thus helps fight against colon, breast cancer etc.
· It is also rich in folate which promotes normal tissue growth and can help avoid birth defects.