Vegan Grandma

Monday, April 16, 2007

Broccoli With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives And Some Interesting
Things About Broccoli

I haven't been faithful in posting lately because, although I have been retired for about 5 years, I'm very busy working at a temporary job until June so I can earn money to go to Switzerland this summer. I have always wanted to go to Switzerland, and now my son and my daughter are living there until December. I'm really excited about visiting them, seeing the Alps, and taking a train to Paris, as well.
Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables, and on of the healthiest.

The following recipe was adapted from Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale, page 66.

Broccoli With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

1 large head of broccoli

1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing

2 tablespoons chopped, re-hydrated sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons pitted, chopped Kalamata olives

Cut the florets from a large head of broccoli, and steam the florets (See below for instructions on steaming. Remember to not overcook). Toss with the sun-dried tomatoes and olives.

Some Interesting Things About Broccoli

When former United States President George H. W. Bush said that he did not like broccoli, a powerful broccoli agriculture lobby sent several tons of it to the White House. This broccoli was donated to the Capital Area Food Bank. Most people who say they do not like broccoli have eaten only over cooked broccoli. Properly cooked, broccoli ( see “Using Broccoli”, below) is delicious as well as being one of the healthiest foods you can eat. For optimal health, vegan M.D., Michael Greger ( ), recommends eating broccoli every day.

Broccoli contains a rich supply of vitamins and minerals. It is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, and soluble fiber. By weight, fresh, boiled and drained broccoli has 16 percent more vitamin C than an orange, and about as much calcium as milk. Broccoli is high in bioflavonoids and other antioxidants, and is one of the richest vegetables in iron and magnesium.

Broccoli is one of the major anti-cancer foods. It contains nitrogen compounds called indoles which studies indicate protect against certain forms of cancer. Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have indicated that people who eat lots of broccoli have fewer cancers of the colon, breast, cervix, lungs, prostate, esophagus, larynx, and bladder.

Broccoli is a cole crop, a member of the Cabbage family, and is related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

Common varieties or broccoli are Calabrese (sprouting broccoli) and purple sprouting broccoli.

Broccoli is believed to be the first of the Cole crops to evolve from the wild species of kale or cabbage and was cultivated by the Romans. It has grown wild in the Mediterranean areas for hundreds of years. This vegetable was introduced in England in the early 16 th century known as “ Italian asparagus” or “sprout cauliflower”. Domestic broccoli is thought to date from the seventeenth or eighteenth century.

In the American colonies, Thomas Jefferson had wide circle of European correspondents, from whom he got packets of seeds for rare vegetables such as tomatoes. He noted the planting of broccoli at Monticello along with radishes, lettuce, and cauliflower on May 27, 1767.

Commercial cultivation of broccoli in the United States can be traced to the D'Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea, immigrants from Messina, Italy, whose company planted broccoli in San Jose, California in 1922. A few crates were initially shipped to Boston, where there was a thriving Italian immigrant culture in the North End.

Varieties of Broccoli

Sprouting Broccoli- traditional broccoli, this is the most popular and most commonly found broccoli. It consists of dark green clusters of buds, known as florets, which grow on branching arms that connect to a thick leafy stalk. It is also referred to as Calabrese, after the Italian province of calabria, where it was first grown.

Purple Broccoli-Purple broccoli is very similar to sprouting broccoli except its florets have a purplish color to them and the heads of purple broccoli are typically smaller. Its taste is the same as sprouting broccoli.

Broccolini (also known as baby broccoli)-A cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It has an appearance similar to asparagus, with smaller broccoli buds on top. Eaten raw, it is a tender, less fibrous stalk,and is crunchy and flavorful. This vegetable can be used in the same way as traditional broccoli, served in salads or as an appetizer with a dip. It is good in stir fried vegetable dishes, or sautéed in olive oil.

Broccoflower-This is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Its appearance is the same as a cauliflower except it is light green in color. It has a slightly sweeter taste than regular cauliflower when eaten raw and when cooked, its taste is similar to broccoli. It can be served or cooked in the same way you would regular cauliflower.

Chinese Broccoli- This has green clusters of flowering buds (florets), which grow on a thick leafy stalk. It is a variety of broccoli that is similar to regular broccoli, but milder in taste and grown on a longer stalk. The stalks and leaves are often cooked separately, cooking the stalks first, until tender and the leaves until wilted. It is good in salads, steam cooked as a side dish, as an ingredient in a vegetable stir-fry, or added to other cooked dishes. Chinese Broccoli is also known as Gai Lan, Gailan, Gai Laan, Gaii Lan, Gai Larn, Gai Lon, Gai Lum, Kai Lan, Kai Laarn, Kairan, Chinese kale, or white flowering broccoli.

Romanesco Broccoli -A cross between broccoli and cauliflower, this bright green vegetable grows in a head consisting of many small, spiral florets. Each floret forms a peak. It has a unique and delicate flavor. It is available in the fall, September to November.

Broccoli Sprouts-These are broccoli seeds that have germinated. Broccoli sprouts are good in salads and sandwiches. Broccoli sprouts can also be sautéed or stir-fried, but are very delicate and can only be heated for 20 to 30 seconds before wilting. Sprouts should be kept refrigerated for only a few days before they become wilted or too moist and slimy for use.

Buying Broccoli

Broccoli is available year round, but its flavor is best from late fall to early spring. Warm weather Broccoli is less tender, and lacks the flavor of Broccoli grown in cooler months.

Broccoli is usually sold in bunches weighing 1 ½ to 2 pounds. The crowns are also sold loose. 1 ½ pounds of broccoli will make 4 generous side dishes.

When selecting, look for thick heads of compact, tiny bud clusters (florets) that are evenly dark green (or with purplish tint) in color. Look for firm stalks and firm, tightly bunched heads. Yellow buds or open buds on the heads mean that the Broccoli is past its prime.
The broccoli should have a fresh aroma. A strong odor indicates that the broccoli is past its prime. Also, avoid heads that show signs of wilting of the florets or stalk or with soft slippery or slimy spots or brown spots on the florets or stems. Avoid broccoli with thick, woody stems.

If leaves are attached, they should have a good color, and not appear wilted.

Broccoli with darker tops and a purplish hue has the most beta carotene.

You can buy packaged broccoli slaw which can be used raw in salads, or in stir fries.

Storing Broccoli

Broccoli should be left unwashed when storing. Any water on the broccoli will encourage the growth of mold. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, leaving the bag open or use a perforated plastic bag. This will avoid excess moisture, which causes mold to grow. Store up to 5 days.

Broccoli is very sensitive to ethylene, which is a gas given off by some fruits and vegetables. The gas speeds up the ripening process so broccoli should not be stored with ethylene producing fruits and vegetables, such as, apples, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, mango, peaches, pears, tomato, and white sapote.

Storing cooked broccoli-Once cooked, broccoli can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days in a tightly covered container.

To freeze broccoli remove the leaves and peel the stalks. Cut into small length strips and blanch for 5 minutes. To blanch, drop it into a large pot of boiling salted water, and cook until the stems can be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, but before the green color starts to fade. Remove the broccoli from the pot, and spread the broccoli out on a plate or tray in a single layer to cool (do not plunge into ice water as you would do when blanching other vegetables). Frozen broccoli will keep for 10 to 12 months at 0 degrees F. Frozen broccoli has half the calcium as fresh, and slightly smaller amounts of iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.

Using Broccoli

Broccoli can be eaten raw in salads or with dips, or it can be steamed and eaten as is, or served with various sauces.

The leafs, stalk and florets can be eaten raw or cooked. Cook leaves as you would chard or kale. Raw broccoli can be served with a dip or cut up and added to salads. When cooked, it can be eaten as a side dish, alone or topped with a sauce. It is also often added to other dishes, such as stir fries, pasta, quiches, or soups.

The broccoli florets have more beta carotene than the stalks.

Before using, broccoli should be washed in a good organic cleaner. Better yet, buy organic broccoli. More than 50 pesticides can be used on broccoli, and 70 percent of these pesticides cannot be detected after harvesting.

To get the grit out of the heads, dunk the heads in cold water and swish around for a few minutes. Rinse well.

Before starting to prepare the broccoli, rinse the head thoroughly in cold water and remove any wilted or damaged leaves. After the broccoli has been cut up as shown below, soak it in salt water or vinegar water to help force any insects out that are lodged within the florets.

If you are using only the florets, cut high on the stem so the head separates into individual florets.

If the stalk is going to be used, cut off the tough bottom end. Then trim the stalk off, leaving about 3 inches below the florets.

Peel the tough outer layer from the stalk using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Cut the stalk into quarters lengthwise. Holding the quartered strips together, cut the stalk crosswise to the desired size.

Finish trimming the broccoli by cutting each floret off the head, leaving a little stalk on each cluster. If the individual florets are fairly large, they can be sliced in half lengthwise to make smaller pieces.

Cooking Broccoli

Broccoli can be cooked using several methods. Some common methods are steaming, boiling, sauteing, and stir frying. Broccoli should be cooked until they are tender-crisp. The stalks take longer to cook so, when cooking broccoli pieces, the stalk pieces should be started a few minutes before the florets.

To prevent cooked broccoli from developing a sulfurous taste and odor, do not overcook. If steaming, only partially cover the broccoli, and if boiling, don’t cover at all. This lets the broccoli’s natural sulfur compounds escape. Place a piece of bread on top of broccoli when cooking to absorb some of the odor, or put a few chunks of bread into the water. Never cook broccoli in an aluminum pan, because this will make the odor worse.

To prevent cooked broccoli from cooking even more, drain immediately and rinse with cold water.

Steaming Broccoli

Add enough water to the pot so that it is below the bottom of the steamer basket when it is placed in the pot. Bring the water to a full boil using a high heat. Place stalk pieces in the steamer basket and place the basket in the pot over the boiling water, making sure no water is coming up through the holes in the steamer. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add floret pieces, cover, and steam for an additional 5 minutes or until pieces are tender-crisp..
Remove steamer basket from pot and prepare broccoli for serving.

Boiling Broccoli

Broccoli should be boiled for only 30 seconds if you want to keeps the keep the green color. Always add vegetables to the boiling, salted water , never start in cold water, or color and nutrients will be lost. Do not cover the pan when boiling broccoli, so that the natural sulfur compounds can escape. You can place a piece of bread on top of broccoli when cooking to absorb some of the odor

If cooking both the florets and stalks, the larger pieces will require additional cooking time. To speed up this cooking time, slit the stalks lengthwise up to the florets.

Do not overcook broccoli. Overcooking will cause it to break apart, lose its color, diminish its taste, and will cause the lose of many nutrients.

To make the flavor of broccoli more exciting, add lemon juice, flavored vinegar, or seasonings, such as basil, dill, caraway seed, oregano, tarragon, and thyme. Do not add acids ,such as lemon juice or vinegar, to the cooking water until after the broccoli is cooked, because acids will turn the broccoli grayish-green.

For a delicious side dish, cover cooked broccoli with a vegan cheese sauce and brown under the broiler.

Peeling the fibrous outer layer of the broccoli's stalk makes it easier to digest.

One pound of broccoli equals 2 cups cut up. One 10 oz. frozen package equals 1 1/2 cups chopped.

To use the stems after you have cut 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. Broccoli stems have a delicious, delicate flavor.

To revive limp, raw broccoli, trim ½ inch from the base of the stalk and set the head in a glass of cold water in the refrigerator over night.

To cook limp broccoli, steam-boil in a shallow pan of water adding a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar per cup of cooking water.

When sauteing or stir-frying, it is a good idea to blanch (see below) the broccoli first so it is partially cooked ahead of time. This will allow the broccoli to be cooked the proper amount when sauteed or stir-fried with other ingredients that are faster cooking, and it will improve the color and flavor of the broccoli.

To brighten the color of broccoli, blanch or quick cook over high heat.
To blanch, drop a small amount of broccoli into a large pot of boiling salted water (adding a large amount of broccoli will cool the water too much) , and cook until the stems can be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, but before the green color starts to fade. Remove the broccoli from the pot, and spread the broccoli out on a plate or tray in a single layer to cool (do not plunge into ice water as you would do when blanching other vegetables).

If adding broccoli to a cold salad, first blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes and then immediately rinse with cold water. Blanching for a short period of time will bring out the flavor of the broccoli and brightens its color.

If you overcook broccoli, chop it fine, toss it with rice and seasonings, or sprinkle over baked potatoes and sprinkle with vegan cheese.

Broccoli with vinaigrette- cut florets from a large head of broccoli. Blanch or steam broccoli florets, and toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. If serving cold, cool the blanched florets before tossing with vinaigrette.

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, published by Broadway Books, New York

The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition. How to Buy, Store, and Prepare Every Variety of Fresh Food, by Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the Editors of the University of California at Berkeley WELLNESS LETTER, published by Rebus, New York, 1992

Grandmother's Food Secrets, by Dr. Myles H. Bader, published by Mylette Enterprises, LLC, Las Vegas NV 89102

World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jeffrey, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York

Foods that Harm, Foods That Heal, an A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating, Published by the Readers Digest Association, Inc., 1997

The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Edited by Susan Westmoreland, Food Director, Good housekeeping, published by Hearst Books, New York, 2001

The Essential Vegetarian Cook Book, by Diana Shaw, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers


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