What’s Cookin’ – Steamed Broccoli

When I was growing up, I thought that there were only three choices when it came to vegetables – green beans, peas, and corn.  Meals included a meat, a potato, and one of these three vegetables.  I would eat corn out of a can, but I wouldn’t touch the green beans or peas.  They just always tasted briny and had a soggy texture.  Not really very appetizing.

Occasionally, my mother would try to introduce a new vegetable.  Lima beans, for instance.  Forget about it.  Once she even tried asparagus.  She was so frustrated with my refusal to even try the asparagus, that she put me into a headlock and force fed some to me.  Let’s just say that the results were volcanic, and she never tried to force me to eat veggies, or anything else for that matter, again.

I left home nearly 36 years ago, and I started to become exposed to new and different foods.  One day, while watching Julia Child on PBS, she prepared an exotic new vegetable – broccoli.  Well, it was exotic and new to me.

Yes, Julia Child did an entire episode on preparing and steaming broccoli.  I believe the episode was called “Lest We Forget Broccoli” and was filmed in black and white.

I’ve been walking in the morning with a friend, Lisa, and she talked about making fresh broccoli for her children.  They don’t like the broccoli stems, she said.  They are too tough.  I asked her if she peeled them prior to steaming the broccoli, and she didn’t know what I was talking about.

We went out to eat recently, and I ordered a lovely, light baked fish with steamed broccoli for a side.  When the broccoli came out, it was barely cooked, and the stems were tough and barely edible.  Not a good accompaniment to the light and tender fish.  But only because it had not been prepared properly.

I have been preparing broccoli the Julia Child way for decades now, but many people aren’t aware that the proper preparation creates a tender and tasty vegetable where you can use the entire stem as well as the florets.  In fact, if you have a kid who has a problem with the texture of the florets, they may just like to eat the tender pieces of broccoli stems.

Steamed Broccoli – broccoli and kosher salt.  It’s all in the prep.

Buying broccoli by the bunch is very cost effective especially as compared to buying the already prepared florets-only packages or pre-prepared stem pieces.  Preparation, from start to finish, only takes a few minutes and a simple paring knife, so why pay a premium for someone else to peel and prepare your broccoli?

Step one – cut the tough ends off the stems and tear off any miscellaneous leaf stems.

Step two – cut, pull, and peel the stems.

Using the edge of the paring knife, insert along the tough outer portion of the stem, pull, and peel it off.  Continue to turn the broccoli stalk around cutting, pulling, and peeling the tough outer portion off until the stem is completely trimmed of the tough outer layer.

Another way to peel broccoli is to cut the entire stem off from the florets section.  Then peel the beheaded stems.  The florets cook more quickly than the stem pieces so you can start cooking the stem pieces first and add the floret pieces partway through the cooking process.

Step three – the peeled broccoli is ready to cut into desired pieces.

1 ½ pound of fresh broccoli, trimmed and peeled, will yield about 1 pound of broccoli ready to cook.

Step four – cut into desired pieces.

I like to have pieces that include floret and stem portions.  The stem are very good to eat once they are peeled.  They are very tender and don’t have any of the toughness or bitterness of the outer skin.

Salt the raw broccoli, and it is ready to steam in the microwave.

I always use the microwave to steam broccoli.  It’s easy and quick.  Put the prepared broccoli pieces into a microwave safe steamer.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Allow to sit for an additional 3 minutes.  Drain any liquid from the broccoli.  Serve or use in your favorite recipe calling for cooked broccoli.

Using boiling water or a steamer basket requires more attention, and since I am usually working on several things at once, it’s easy to forget about the broccoli.  Overcooked broccoli is not appetizing.

Steamed and ready to eat as is, use in your favorite casserole, or dress with cheese sauce, Hollandaise, or with some olive oil or butter.

Yummy.

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2 Responses to What’s Cookin’ – Steamed Broccoli

  1. Mary says:

    You must have already watched that episode when you lived in Chicago. I remember visiting you there and you peeling the broccoli. I was surprised. Yet ever since, I’ve taken to peeling it too. It is much more tender. I peel my asparagus for the same reason. Fresh veggies over canned any day!

    • Mama says:

      Wow, then it was a long time ago since I lived in Chicago in 1978-1979. Ever since the asparagus episode, I won’t eat it although I did have a cream of asparagus soup in Mexico one time that was delicious. Someday, my children will appreciate that I served them freshly made food!

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