From the Land 2/1

food for thought
full share: broccoli, escarole, valentine radishes, tuscano kale, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, oranges, and purple turnips!
partial: oranges, radishes, broccoli, kohlrabi

veg of the week
broccoli: Brassica oleraceaBroccoli plant

Literally “the flowering top of a cabbage”, broccoli is in fact related to cabbage, kale, cauliflower, collards, turnips, and even kohlrabi (we’re getting lots of brassicas this week!) – all evolved from the wild cabbage on the European continent and have been cultivated for over 2000 years! Broccoli was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants, though it did not become popular until the 1920’s. Broccoli and its brassica cousins all tend to have somewhat similar tastes, but each member of the family is enjoyed differently: cabbage is made up of immature leaves eaten raw, cooked or fermented; the root and greens of the turnip are usually steamed or boiled; the bulb of the kohlrabi is best eaten raw on salad; and broccoli is best known for the not-yet-flowering buds that make up the “head”, which can be steamed or sauteed, and most cooks also utilize the stalk.

Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, as well as multiple nutrients with anti-cancer properties. To maximize the cancer-fighting compounds, steam the broccoli for 3-4 minutes. Boiling reduces these compounds, while extended steaming, microwaving, eating raw, and stir-frying seem to have no effect. Steaming also brings out its purported cholesterol-lowering benefits. Broccoli also has a positive strong effect on our body’s natural detoxification system, balance our vitamin D metabolism, and lessen the impact of allergens on our bodies. As we discovered a couple weeks ago with garlic, let the broccoli sit for a few minutes after cutting to maximize the nutrient content, and don’t cook it too hot.

To store: put unwashed uncut broccoli in plastic bag with as little air as possible. It will store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. It can also be blanched and frozen for up to a year.

food rule #26: drink the spinach water

As you know, we sometimes pick one of Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” of write about in detail. One of my favorites is the one that advises saving the water in which the vegetables were cooked for soup stock. Maybe it’s my favorite because it touches on many of my favorite things: cooking techniques, nutrient content, food waste, and relying less on the grocery store for things I can make myself!

Whether you’ve steamed or boiled your spinach (broccoli, carrots, turnips, potatoes, etc.) some of the nutrients ends up in the water instead of the vegetable. So why waste it? Put it in a ziploc bag and into the freezer, adding to it each time you have more “spinach water”. Pull it out when you’re making soup, and you’ll have a nutrient-rich stock. Plus, you won’t have to add (as much) high-sodium bouillon.

Another technique for making your own stock is to save all your odds-and-ends from your produce instead of sending it straight to the compost. Keep in mind that the average American throws away 40% of their groceries, and that 14% of landfill waste is food! While there, the food actually produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Think potato peels, apple cores, carrot greens, onion skins, or anything from the fridge that’s on its way out but is not yet bad. Freeze the scraps in a bag until you have enough to half fill a soup pot – add enough water to cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Some chefs recommend adding a tablespoon of oil and apple cider vinegar, or roasting all the vegetables in the oven before boiling. Strain all the veggie bits out, and now you have a great base for any kind of soup!

In either case, this stock can now be used for soup stock, or pour and store into an ice tray to use smaller quantities to cook rice in (for extra flavor) or anytime your recipe calls for a small amount of liquid. It’s more nutritious, more delicious, and cheaper than buying stock – and don’t worry, you can still add the cooked scraps to your compost pile!

For more information:
Michael Pollan on “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”
Michael Pollan on the Daily Show
Five Packaged Food You Never Need to Buy Again
How to make Scrappy Vegetable Stock
How (and Why) to Boil Your Garbage

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broccoli and radish salad with gorgonzola
adapted from karlynskitchen.com

  • 6 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups radishes, trimmed and cut into fourths lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup Blue Cheese salad dressing (use more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • salt, fresh ground pepper to taste

In large bowl combine broccoli and radishes. Toss with blue cheese dressing, add Gorgonzola, and toss again. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

stuffed sweet potatoes with broccoli and feta
adapted from myrecipes.com

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 C broccoli florets, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 t chopped garlic
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • feta cheese

Pierce potatoes with a fork, and bake until soft. Cook 3/4 cup broccoli 3 minutes in a medium skillet in boiling salted water; drain. Heat oil in skillet. Sauté broccoli, 1 teaspoon garlic, and a pinch of red pepper 1 minute. Cut a slit lengthwise through each potato; push ends inward to form a pocket. Crumble 1 tablespoon feta into each pocket. Fill each pocket with broccoli mixture and 2 teaspoons feta.

broccoli with orange sauce
adapted from allrecipes.com

  • 1 pound broccoli spears
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon bouillon granules
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1 medium navel orange, thinly sliced

Place broccoli and a small amount of water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and bouillon. Stir in water, orange juice and peel until blended. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes until thickened.

Drain broccoli and place in a serving bowl. Garnish with orange slices and drizzle with sauce.

turnip hash with broccoli
adapted from marthastewart.com

  • 1/2 pound plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath; set aside. Score an X on the bottom of each tomato with a paring knife. Add tomatoes to the pot. Boil until skins are loosened, about 30 seconds; remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon (keeping water at a boil), and immediately plunge them into the ice bath. Drain, peel, and seed tomatoes, then coarsely chop flesh.
Add turnips to pot; boil until just tender when pierced with a fork, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the turnips to a colander to drain. Repeat process with parsnips, then potatoes. Add broccoli to pot, and boil until bright green and crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain in colander; set aside.
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic, salt, red-pepper flakes, thyme, and reserved turnips, parsnips, and potatoes; spread evenly to cover bottom of skillet. Cook, without stirring, until vegetables begin to brown on bottom, about 15 minutes.
Add reserved tomatoes and broccoli to skillet. Stir once; cook until vegetables are very tender and browned, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.
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