Everyone has an opinion about broccoli, those miniature green trees that pack the most powerful medicine known to humans…real food! This venerable vegetable is known in every corner of the world, with various recipes appearing in multitudinous cuisines. Most importantly, folks (including kids) really like it!
Like its cousins: Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, turnips, and the new-age “king”, the newly popular KALE, are powerhouses of stored mega-nutrients. The cruciferous family is a well-known cancer inhibitor and is touted as possessing high amounts of vitamins C and K, sulfur and folate which provides protection for the body against invaders. By creating a healthy complexion and luxurious hair, helping weight loss and imparting increased level of energy, these veggies are a daily source of “required eating!”
We can thank the Southern Italian immigrants who introduced America to their most treasured delicacy in the 1920’s. The most common form we know is named the Calabrese broccoli, named after the Calabria region in Italy, at the toe of the boot. It is best used in stir-fry dishes, steamed or in casseroles. A suggestion is to peel the skin of the well-trimmed stem to create a more digestible texture eliminating the cellulose covering and slice very thinly leaving the tops of the “trees” intact. By steaming with very little water, and watching for the height of green color, the nutrient level is maintained and the result is glorious.
My recent favorite form to use is a variety called broccolini, notable for thinner stems and a more delicate head, abounding in a delicate, sweet flavor. It is a hybrid of broccoli and Kai-lan (also called Chinese kale). The Japanese developed this variety to sauté with tofu, ginger and garlic. I like it in vegan quiches and creamy soups. I am a fan of this variety as i find it easier to prepare than the standard full head variety because of the less fibrous texture. Plus, the yellow flowers (if present) are edible too.
Another form to try is broccoli raab , rabe or Rapini, which is a favorite in Italian cooking as a steamed or sautéed dish accompanied with lots of fresh garlic and the finest, pure olive oil available. This is a relative of the turnip and has more leaves than florets. It is described as having a slightly bitter flavor (good for the liver) with a nutty or pungent twist. If ordering in a restaurant, try to ask for light on the oil as i have found that soaking it drowns the flavor and compromises the nutritional value, also making it less digestible.
And now for the STAR of the show…Romanesco broccoli. As seen in the picture, this has the most incredibly intricate form. It is a variant of the cauliflower family which sometimes can be found like its sister to be bright purple in color. Its usual light green hue and amazing configuration is actually representative of the “Fibonacci Principle” in mathematics. Its mesmerizing pattern is actually a natural approximation of a FRACTAL. Check out this concept for yourself or better yet cook up some in remarkably delicious dishes. Funky and fun with a great flavor, just make sure you don’t overcook it or the pattern will become mushy. The kids will want seconds of these fascinating florets!
Try adding broccoli to any dish you order in a restaurant. For a little extra charge, the return in healing nutrients, color and flavor will enhance any dish. Dark green leafy vegetables have high calcium values. It is one of the gifts from nature that is readily available, very
inexpensive and packs tremendous powerful nutrition. Let us not take these gifts for granted!
Food is our medicine…Let it heal us!