Broccoli from the cabbage family is a vegetable best grown for nutritious and tasty flower heads. The heads are usually green or purple in color. This vegetable belongs to the family which includes other members such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, arugula, kale, collard greens, and others.
It grows well in cool areas and prefers fertile rich, well-drained soils. The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo. The name means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”.
Major producers of broccoli include China, India, Spain, Mexico, and Italy.
Fresh broccoli is available year-round. When buying from the market one must choose firm-textured flower heads which are brilliantly colored green or purple. Heads with yellow flower buds are aged. Those that have withered or are no longer firm should be avoided.
The heads should be washed thoroughly in running water both upright and upside down and dipped in salt water to remove soil and pesticide residue.
Broccoli is best used fresh. It can be refrigerated for a few days but no more in an airtight container.
Culinary Preparation of Broccoli
The leaves, stalks, and flower heads of broccoli are edible. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Usually, the young tender parts are the ones eaten raw or as part of a salad. Cooked broccoli can also be used in salad.
One can fry, blanch, sauté, stir-fry, sear or steam this vegetable based on the type of recipe. They can be used in dishes that are based on legumes such as beans, poultry, or beef. They go well with onion, garlic, peppers, and butter.
Broccoli should not be overcooked which destroys vitamins. The vegetable should be served soft but crisp and firm and bright in texture and color. limb or mash vegetables are a sign of overcooking.
Broccoli comes with 34 calories per 100 grams. It contains no cholesterol and is a good source of dietary fiber and anti-oxidants.
It is rich in complex B-vitamins such as folates, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamin. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
It contains good amounts of potassium, calcium, and copper. iron, manganese, and magnesium are also present in this vegetable.