Composting broccoli is definitely good for the soil, and your flock can benefit a lot from a few stalks, but you’ll be depriving yourself of numerous nutritional benefits. Let’s learn to share the healing. Throw some stalks and leaves into the chicken coop, but fill your compost bin with egg shells and coffee grounds instead.
You don’t want to discard any nutrient-dense morsels, or miss out on the flavourful new takes on old recipes broccoli stalks can offer. The trick to finding ways to incorporate the stems is to consider them separately from florets.
Imagine the stalk is a vegetable all its own, with a crisp texture and a mild, fresh flavour. Now, give it a chance to shine.
How can we incorporate broccoli stalks and enjoy both their flavour, and their nutritional benefits?
Believe it or not, the stems are both tasty, and easy to cook. Some people prefer to peel off the outer skin before preparing the stalks, but it’s not essential. Younger broccoli stalks especially have very tender, flavourful stems—skin and all.
One of my favourite ways to prepare these stems is in hearty soups and stews. Broccoli stalks tend to hold up better in minestrone than the florets. Chop them into thick cubes and throw them into the soup along with your potatoes and onions to simmer.
Throw some thinly sliced stems into your stir-fry instead of water chestnuts (or in addition to them) for an extra healthy addition to a vegetable-rich meal. Stir-fries are a great option for getting the maximum health benefits from cooked broccoli stalks. Quick, high-heat cooking preserves many nutrients that might otherwise be cooked away. Add the green florets to your stir-fry a minute or so after the stems to cook everything perfectly.
Sear julienned broccoli stalks in olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt, and fold them into an omelette along with some sharp cheddar cheese and fresh chives for an indulgent Sunday brunch. Or, throw diced stems into a frittata with smoked gouda and thickly sliced bacon to feed a crowd on Saturday morning.
Slicing broccoli stalks into long spears and roasting them is another amazing way to cook this neglected vegetable. Mingle the spears with squash, onions, tomatoes, and beets. Coat them with olive oil, and sprinkle thyme and sea salt on top before roasting.
4. In the Raw:
You certainly don’t have to cook broccoli stalks to enjoy their flavour or health benefits. Raw stems can be a delicious, fresh addition to any meal.
Imagine thinly sliced stalks brightening up the average veggie tray with a crisp, new flavour option. Or peeled, slim stalk circles for scooping up hummus like a crunchy little chip! There are so many ways to incorporate raw broccoli stems as a snack or meal.
5. Slaws and Salads:
Try grating fresh broccoli stalks into a slaw with slivered almonds, fresh carrots, and crumbled feta. The stalks with be a great addition to any slaw, however. Toss them together with cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, or potato salad for a pop of colour and a burst of flavour.
6. Gluten-Free Cracker Alternatives:
Peeled, raw broccoli stems can be sliced thin and topped with goat cheese, dried cranberries, and crushed pistachios for a great, gluten-free crostini as well. Welcome your gluten-free guests with something new and exciting.
Broccoli stalks are a great base to build on when you start seeing them as nature’s own cracker. There is no limit to the toppings these little stalks can’t handle.
7. The New Pickle:
Sliced into broad strips and sprinkled with dill, salt, and vinegar, raw broccoli stalks are a tasty and novel re-invention of the conventional pickle. Serve a few beside (or inside) sandwiches!
You can even mince them and make relish. Combine broccoli stalk with red onions, dill, vinegar, and a mildly spicy pepper for a hot relish. Pile it on tuna salad for a whole new tuna melt.
Nourishing the Whole Family:
If you’re a pet owner, you know that your pet’s health is important. We care about our animal companions, and want them to be as healthy as possible. They’re a part of the family.
People aren’t the only ones who can benefit from broccoli’s nutrient density. Your pup would love a bit of broccoli. Broccoli is also one of the few vegetables that is healthy for dogs to consume consistently. If you feed your dogs a good diet of bones, meat, and vegetables, chances are you know all this. If you don’t, let me go over a few basics.
Dogs are not “pure” or obligate carnivores. Unlike cats, hawks, owls, mink, and other, exclusive carnivores, dogs need more than just meat. It’s healthy for a dog to have access to some veggies as well. Broccoli is a great, healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Try steaming some broccoli stalks and mixing them in with your pup’s meal. Or blend steamed broccoli into your home-made dog treats.
Like people, dogs benefit from the added vitamins and nutrients. If your dog is anything like mine, she’ll be sneaking raw broccoli stalks off the table in no time.
Cats are considered obligate carnivores, so adding broccoli stalks to their regular diet is discouraged. That said, broccoli is one of the few vegetables they can eat without harm. Therefore, an occasional broccoli treat might be fun for your kitty.
Just don’t ever give broccoli (or any other brassica) to pet rabbits, as it can cause life-threatening gas or intestinal blockage.
There are always hits and misses whenever we start exploring new foods, or new ways of cooking with old favourites. Broccoli stalks are no different. I’ve found I don’t like them steamed and blended into smoothies, but you might! Never be afraid to try something new.
Broccoli stalks are a forgiving food to work with. They’re simple, mild, crisp, and versatile. Best of all, your body will have a the benefits of a nutrient dense superfood. Be prepared to feel stronger and more energetic than ever when you invite more of this wonderful vegetable into your diet.”
All the best Jan