Did you know there are multiple types of broccoli? Oh yes, there’s a whole world of this deep green veggie. Including broccolini, featured in this week's Farm and Family boxes, there are as many as 27 different varieties. These Old World cabbage relatives can be sown in early spring, midsummer, or even late fall.
It is best to store broccoli, in any of it's forms, in a plastic bag in your refrigerator's vegetable drawer. Remove as much air as possible from the bag. Some varieties will last longer than others.
Think broccoli but on thinner, more tender stalks with smaller heads and a sweeter taste. It’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. You might also compare its appearance to asparagus. Invented in 1993, broccolini was first grown under the name “Asparation” because of its asparagus-flavor undertones. But then some genius was like “that is a truly horrible name for a vegetable” and decided to market it as “broccolini” in the United States instead.
Broccolini is basically broccoli’s lazier — and arguably tastier — cousin. Because there’s almost no prep involved, it can be on the table in next to no time. The best way to prepare it is also the simplest: Toss it in a hot pan with olive oil and lots of garlic until it’s vibrantly green and tender. Try this recipe for Easy 10-minute Garlic Broccolini.
Sprouting broccoli is grown for its long, tender shoots, which are prepared in the same way as asparagus, or used in stir-fries. Serve the florets with leaves and stems attached, as all are quite tender. Also, don’t be surprised when the purple turns to green during cooking!
Broccoli has bigger, rounder florets and heads than broccolini, which is defined by its thinner stems and smaller heads. It is an incredibly nutritious vegetable, full of Vitamin C and other good nutrients. If you find yourself avoiding fresh broccoli because you’re worried it will go bad before you can get to it, steam until bright green and freeze in Ziploc bags for later. Frozen broccoli is great for bulking up a skillet meal, pairing with protein in a stir-fry, or adding to soup in a flash. Did you know you can even roast broccoli straight from the freezer?
Creative Cooking Ideas
Also known as Roman cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli has a gorgeous texture like sea coral. It’s no surprise that this kind has an equally interesting flavor, best described as “nutty.” What a conversation piece for both the veggie garden and the dinner table!
Like broccoli, Romanesco can be eaten raw, but also holds up well under various cooking methods like stir frying or roasting in an oven. As the florets heat up, they can become surprisingly sweet, making Romanesco a perfect addition to curries and other spicy dishes. Romanesco also goes very well with pasta. Keep it simple with a hard, aged cheese and olive oil.