Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Broccoli Week, or What To Do With A Bonanza Of Broccoli

There were a number of heads of broccoli forming in the garden the week before I left for vacation back on the 10th of October. Wouldn't you know it, the fall crop decides to produce at a most inconvenient time.

The Apollo brokali had heads that were ready - three big ones that I knew would be completely overblown by the time I got home so I harvested all of them. We ate one head, one went to a friend, and the third went into the fridge to await my return. I was pretty sure that that one head of broccoli would still be in decent condition after 10 days in the fridge, it's generally the case if harvested and refrigerated right away. And it was still good enough when we got home but wouldn't have kept much longer. That one I prepared fairly simply, separated into long stemmed florets, blanched and served with sauteed bacon and onions.

Apollo brokali

My big dilemma though was what to do with the Batavia broccoli. Batavia produces the familiar broccoli with tight firm florets and short stalks. The day before my departure the heads were still quite small but not too much so. I had a hard time deciding whether to harvest them then and face a bunch of broccoli that would need to be consumed right away upon my return or take my chances and hope that they wouldn't explode into bloom while I was away. I decided to take my chances on overblown broccoli.

Upon my return I was relieved to find that the broccoli wasn't actually on the verge of blooming but it was huge and only days from turning into a loose gangly mess.

Batavia broccoli

I was really quite amazed at how quickly it had grown, it must have about tripled in size in only 10 days. So I ended up with 9 pounds of Batavia broccoli heads to deal with and almost 2 pounds of side shoots that I harvested from the rest of the plants. I did go a bit crazy with the broccoli planting this year. The plan was to pull out the summer planting when the fall/winter planting started to produce but I've not pulled out the summer plants yet...

The challenge now is to eat all this broccoli without getting bored.  I warned Dave - it's going to be Broccoli Week. I love really fresh broccoli that is simply cooked, steamed with some butter or hazelnut oil and a splash of lemon or vinegar is a favorite, but just how much steamed buttered broccoli can you eat in a week? Besides that, I want to turn most of the broccoli in main course type dishes. It was time to do some research and get creative.

The sidebar on my blog has a link to a website called Eat Your Books. It's a service that I subscribe to that makes it possible to search the indexes of a lot of my cookbooks very quickly (I have a LOT of cookbooks) as well as a couple magazines that I subscribe to and some food blogs. That was the start of my search for inspiration for Broccoli Week.

Monday night was stir fried broccoli with onions, sweet peppers (still a glut of both of those too) and ground turkey in oyster sauce.  That disappeared pretty quickly.

For Tuesday night I did my version of Long Cooked Broccoli from Chez Panisse Vegetables - the same ingredients except I was too lazy to cut all that broccoli into 1/8 inch thick slices and just divided it into florets. It sounds icky, but it's completely different from stinky broccoli that has been steamed too long. There's lots of bold flavor from garlic, pepper flakes, and anchovies and lemon juice and silkiness from olive oil (and butter, my addition). It cooks down to a chunky sauce that would be great piled on bruschetta or tossed with pasta, but this time I chose to serve it with polenta made from homegrown Floriani Red Flint Corn and garnished the finished dish with some Tolouse sausage. Now that is my idea of comfort food. It's also a great way to turn 2 pounds of broccoli into 4 to 6 servings.

Tonight I'm inspired by the Charred Broccoli and Lentil Salad that I found on the Food 52 website, although I may do chickpeas instead of lentils and add roasted red peppers to the mix.

One thing that's handy about the EYB service is that you can bookmark recipes and put them into a customized list, so I've made a list of broccoli recipes that I want to look at more closely and perhaps try. Actually, I've come up with more ideas than I have broccoli for the moment, so this list will be handy as the broccoli harvests continue.
Not on the list because it's already in my repertoire is a crustless broccoli quiche. I'm also on the lookout for a good broccoli and cheese soup.

What would you do with a glut of broccoli? Don't say freeze it, that would likely be a stop on the way to the compost bin around here. I know Dave at Our Happy Acres has a Broccoli Walnut Salad that I have my eye on.


  1. Wow - those are HUGE heads of broccoli! Unfortunately, freezing is my way of dealing with a glut of broccoli, so that's no help to you (although my gluts are nowhere near as large as yours). We do end up using most everything in our freezer, so it definitely doesn't go to waste. Did you say broccoli/cheese soup? We actually had that for dinner's a favourite!

    I have a good collection of cookbooks as well & have considered joining the Eat Your Books service but am still not at the stage where I can devote a lot of time to cooking (like I did pre-kids). Maybe I'll have more time to experiment with them in another year or so... if I (and my husband!) are lucky ;)

  2. Yep, leave it to the broccoli to gang up on you when you have a trip planned! I need to investigate the EYB site too. We have my cookbook collection, plus my wife's, and my mom's (I think she had more than I did even). But these days I tend to find many recipes online. The Charred Broccoli and Lentil Salad sounds good to me. There's nothing in there not to like, and roasted broccoli in any way is a favorite here. Our broccoli supply is manageable but right now I am trying to move several heads of cabbage.

  3. This is very good with or without the Parmesan. I've made it many times.


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