Sunday, November 23, 2008

More than just a flower and a stalk

Have you ever seen broccoli in a garden? It looks different than what we see in our vegetable section at the grocery store. Broccoli grows in cooler temperatures, and forms a thick, fibrous stalk, cabbage-like leaves, and my personal favorite--the flower. For the longest time I would chop off the stalk and toss it into my compost. Then, while in one of my culinary classes, I was instructed to peel off the outer part of the stalk, and chop it up. Much to my surprise, the stalk now tasted like the flower. All those years of wasted goodies! I now use it as my base for broccoli or vegetable soups.
Well, there is another fantastic gift from the broccoli plant--the leaves! The are very similiar to cabbage, but perhaps even sweeter. You may not find them in your local grocery store, but if you are lucky to see it at a Farmer's Market--pick it up and give it a taste!

After a long day at the Wild Animal Park I decided to whip up a quick pasta dish. I pulled out broccoli greens, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, my pre-grilled chicken breast, whole wheat penne pasta, and fresh Parmesan cheese. I think I spent 10 minutes on this dish, and it was delicious! Get your pasta water started first, chop up the veggies, saute the garlic, and toss remaining ingredients in to heat. Yum! Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, or kale would also work in this dish. Spend 10 minutes in the kitchen instead of 10 minutes on the road!

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