What is Broccoli?
Did you know that broccoli is essentially an edible flower? Yup! We eat everything from the stalk to the flower florets.
Did you also know that there are many varieties of broccoli? You’re not alone if you don’t. Broccoli to us is simply broccoli. Some of the different types of broccoli you can get include the Calabrese, Destiny, Belstar, DiCicco, Sun King and Waltham 29. Talk about interesting names!
Broccoli is part of the mustard family which means it is a form of cabbage and is closely related to cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts. All the lovely cruciferous vegetables are incredibly nutritious as they are packed with good amounts of dietary fibre, vitamins A, C and K, and lots of potassium and folic acid.
Can I Eat the Stem of The Broccoli?
As mentioned above, all parts of broccoli can be eaten. In many cases, home cooks cut off the florets of the broccoli and discard the stem when, in fact, they are delicious!
Try cutting them up into round discs, diced into small cubes or thick match sticks and use them as part of your recipe. Particularly good in stir fries as they hold their shape and give us that lovely crunch.
How to Choose A Good Broccoli?
Good quality broccoli should feel dense or heavy when you’re holding them. The florets should be a vibrant dark green and tightly packed. If there are leaves at the stem, they should be sprightly and fresh. Should the florets or leaves start to brown or turn a yellowish colour, they are on the way out.
The stem should be firm and light green in colour. They should not be taking a brown coloured consistency.
What Does Broccoli Taste Like?
Flavour: Bitter is not an adjective I would use to describe the taste of broccoli. However, a small percentage of the world is dubbed broccoli haters because it is so bitter. According to SBS, 70% of us taste a slight bitterness in broccoli and of that 70%, 20% find it so bitter, they hate it.
As we found out with coriander (cilantro) haters, they can’t eat the herb because they taste soap. This is caused by their super-sensitivity to chemicals called aldehydes which is a genetic predisposition.
This is also the case for broccoli haters. We possess a gene that processes bitter tastes, and some do so better than others. The 20% who find it extremely bitter think it’s horrible.
For those who don’t find it bitter, it is the usual grassy and earthy flavours a green vegetable gives us.
Texture: Depending on how it’s cooked, it can range from soft to crunchy. If you like al dente vegetables, they can remain on the firmer side while boiling or roasting will allow the broccoli to really soften up. In fact, they can completely disintegrate if cooked for a longer period.
What Goes Well with Broccoli?
Fruit and Vegetables
Bean sprouts, Brussels sprout, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, celery, chilli, eggplant, endive, ginger, green beans, jalapeno, leek, lemon, lime, mushroom, olive, onion, orange, potato, radish, shallot, spinach, spring onion, squash, tomato, watercress, zucchini.
Herbs, Nuts and Spices
Almonds, basil, cashews, cayenne pepper, chives, coriander, curry powder, dill, hazelnut, macadamia, paprika, parsley, pine nuts, pistachio, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric.
Protein and Other
Beef, butter, cheddar cheese, chicken, curry, duck, egg, feta cheese, goat cheese, oyster sauce, parmesan cheese, pasta, pesto, pork, prawns, rice, salami, soy sauce, tahini, tofu, turkey, yoghurt.
How to Use Broccoli in Salads and Side Dishes?
Broccoli is an incredibly versatile vegetable in terms of how it can be prepared. Perhaps raw is the least favourite way to consume the cruciferous vegetable.
Broccoli is very popular in stir fry dishes as it maintains the crunch well and doesn’t break down. You can blanch them in boiling water, roast, grill, bake, or sous vide them. You can even cook them until they are so soft, they can be pureed or mashed.
The choices are endless and can be put through all the different cooking processes to give you the desired outcome. This just means there are endless salad and side dish recipes you can make!
Salads and Side Dishes with Broccoli
Transforming humble broccoli and cauliflower into a spicy, savoury salad with a punchy gochujang salad dressing and pops of raw apple cucumber and wombok for a refreshing balance.
More Ingredient Pairing Ideas
If you’d like to create your own side dish or salad and have an ingredient you’d like to hero, we have some great pairing suggestions to help you work out what flavours go well together!
- What Goes Well with Watercress
- What Goes Well with Dill
- What Goes Well with Feta
- What Goes Well with Peach
- What Goes Well with Apple
Easy Side Dish Recipe
Cooking up a storm and need a good side dish or two? We have a comprehensive collection of side dish recipes for you to choose from. Here are some recipe you may like:
More Salad Dressing Recipes
Be inspired by our huge collection of homemade salad dressing recipes. Perfect way to reduce wastage, control the flavours to suit your palate and be able to experiment with new flavours!
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