Though available year round, broccoli is a
cool-weather vegetable, and its flavor is best from late fall through
early spring. Warm-weather broccoli is less tender, lacks the flavor
and bright green color of broccoli grown in cooler months. To choose
broccoli, look for firm stalks and firm, tightly bunched heads. Tiny
yellow buds on the head signal that broccoli is over the hill. Also, hold
a bunch up to your nose and breathe deeply. If it has an odor, leave it
For more beta-carotene, choose broccoli with
darker tops and a purplish hue. Do not worry as the purple tinge will turn
to green when the vegetable is cooked. Beta-carotene, which the body
converts to antioxidant vitamin A, has been linked to lower rates of heart
attack and lower rates of cataract and certain cancers.
To remove dirt from a head of broccoli,
simply soak it upside down in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes. If
storage is required, cut a slice off the bottom of the stalk and put the
head of broccoli, stem end down, in a large glass of water. Cover the top
loosely with a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 1 week. After you
have chopped off the florets, peel the stems and cut them into coins or
batons to use in stir-fries or as a raw vegetable for dipping.
Problems solving tips for broccoli
To revive limp, uncooked broccoli, trim 1/2
inch from the base of the stalk and set the head in a glass of cold water
in the refrigerator overnight.
To cook limp broccoli, steam-boil in a
shallow pan of water, adding a pinch each of salt and sugar per cup of
To brighten the color, blanch or quick-cook
over high heat.
To avoid gray-green broccoli, do not add
acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking water. If desired,
add them after cooking instead.
To prevent a sulfurous smell or taste, avoid
overcooking. If steaming, only partially cover the broccoli and if
boiling, don't cover it so that the vegetable's natural sulfur compounds
can escape. You can also place a piece of bread on top of the cooking
broccoli to absorb some of the odor. Never cook broccoli in an aluminum
pan or the odor will worsen.
To rescue overcooked broccoli, chop it
finely and toss it with rice and seasonings, sprinkle over baked potatoes
and top with melted cheese.
To prevent slightly overcooked broccoli from
cooking further, simply drain immediately and rinse with cold water to
stop the cooking process.
To cut a head of broccoli into florets, cut
off the stalk crosswise as close to the florets as possible. Cutting
through the small stems that attach the bottom layer of florets to the
stalk. The bottom layer of florets will fall away from the stalk. Continue
cutting across the stalk through the stems on the next layer of florets.
Repeat until all florets have been removed.
To save time when cooking with pasta or
rice, like all vegetables, broccoli can be cooked along with pasta or
rice. Add trimmed and cut broccoli to cooking pasta or rice 3 minutes
before it is scheduled to be done.
To avoid peeling and slicing stems, buy
packaged broccoli slaw. It makes an easy addition to stir-fries.
Flavoring Tips for broccoli
To use broccoli in a stir-fry, blanch it
first. The texture and flavor will be much improved. Drop into a large pot
of boiling, salted water and cook until the stems can be pierced with the
tip of a knife but before the bright green color starts to fade.
To preserve the flavor and texture of
blanched broccoli, don't plunge it in a bowl of cold water. Instead, lay
it on a plate or tray in a single layer and let it come to room
To dress with vinaigrette, cut florets from
a large head of broccoli. Blanch or steam florets. Toss with 1/2 cup
vinaigrette. To serve cold, cool broccoli first, then toss with dressing.
Healthy hint for broccoli
Avoid over-cooking, which destroys
broccoli's protective compounds. Gentle cooking helps preserve the
beta-carotene. For maximum nutrient retention, lightly steam or microwave
broccoli until tender-crisp.