How to Select Broccoli
When selecting broccoli, choose heads with tight, bluish-green florets. The head should be odorless and the stalk should be firm.
When is Broccoli in Season?
Broccoli is a popular and common vegetable found in most grocery stores and markets year-round. Traditionally a winter vegetable, broccoli is its best from October through April. To pick the best broccoli, you want to look for dark green florets with firm stems.
Varieties of Broccoli
Broccoli is part of the Brassica vegetable family, along with kale, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Broccoli comes in two types: stem or heading. Stem broccoli has thick stalks with small florets. Heading broccoli has a large head made of florets and a thick stalk. There are four common varieties of broccoli:
Calabrese is your traditional form of broccoli. It has thick green stalks and large dark green heads. It has a milder broccoli flavor and a tender texture. This broccoli is very versatile for cooking or eating raw with your favorite dip.
Purple sprouting broccoli is unique. It has thin green stalks and small purple heads. The purple florets have a nutty, subtly sweet flavor and a tender texture that makes it a delicious bite.
White sprouting broccoli has thin stalks like and has small white florets. The little florets look like tiny cauliflower heads. Both the stalk and florets are edible and have a mild flavor similar to asparagus.
Broccoli rabe is a very leafy stem broccoli that looks similar to kale with small florets. Also known as rapini, it has a bitter, nutty flavor. You can find broccoli rabe sauteed, roasted, or braised in Italian dishes.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts & Benefits
A nutrient-rich vegetable, broccoli has many health benefits:
Serving size: 1 cup
Approximate 31 calories
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 2.6 grams of protein
- 6 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.5 grams of natural sugar
- 2.4 grams of fiber
A few key health benefits of broccoli::
- A serving of broccoli provides a significant source of fiber between 5%-10% of your daily value.
- For a vegetable, broccoli is a high source of protein
Broccoli is jam-packed with important vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, manganese, iron, folate, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K1.
How to Store Broccoli
Broccoli should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator. It’s okay to store broccoli in a plastic bag, as long as the bag stays unsealed. It’s better, however, to wrap broccoli in a damp paper towel. Use within 3-5 days.
Broccoli can also be frozen for up to 12 months. To freeze broccoli, wash and then cut the head into florets and the stem into pieces. Blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes (this preserves the color and flavor). Remove the broccoli from the boiling water immediately and then cool it by submerging it in ice water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry completely but quickly. Use a salad spinner or towel to remove as much excess water as possible. Place in freezer bags and store in the freezer.
How to Prepare Broccoli
When storing your broccoli, don’t wash it until you are ready to use. Keep it fresh in your fridge. When preparing broccoli, it’s best to eat it:
- Raw: Cut the florets off the stem, rinse in cold water, and enjoy with your favorite dip.
- Roasted: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You can drizzle the broccoli florets in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then place the florets on a cooking sheet and bake for 17 to 20 minutes. Add a dash of cajun seasoning for enhanced flavor.
- Steamed: Steamed is actually the best way to prepare broccoli because it maintains most of the nutrients. To steam, you can do it over boiling water on the stovetop or quick and dirty in a steamer in the microwave.
Note: You do not want to boil broccoli. This is the worst way to prepare because it robs the broccoli of 90% of its nutrients.
How to Serve Broccoli
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