Do you use all the parts of your vegetables? Did you know that a lot of vegetable parts that are often thrown away or composted (leaves, stems) are edible and delicious? There are actually some odds and ends that I like better than the part of the vegetable that is most commonly eaten. One of these favorites is the broccoli stem.
The crown or florets are what most of us think of when we hear “broccoli” but the stem or stalk of the plant is a wonderful vegetable in its own right. Broccoli stems have the broccoli flavor, although a little milder, without getting limp and soggy quickly like the florets can if overcooked (which happens to me all the time – you walk away for a minute and that’s exactly when the broccoli is done!).
To prepare it, I cut the crown off first and then use a vegetable peeler to take the outer layer off the stem. This isn’t absolutely necessary but I have found that the outer layer can be a bit tough sometimes. Then I cut the stem into thin slices and use it as I would any other vegetable.
I always add the stems if I’m steaming broccoli for a side dish. They need a minute or two longer to cook so add them a little earlier than the florets. I also love using the stem instead of the florets when I cook stir-frys. The stem slices stay pretty firm so they add a nice crunch to the dish and aren’t as compromised when reheating the leftovers (I really dislike reheated, limp broccoli).
Other uses for broccoli stalks are to shred them for broccoli slaw, use them in soups, toss them in a salad or with pasta, or use them as vegetable “chips” for dipping.
How do you enjoy your broccoli stalks?