Broccolis’ health benefits are indisputable. It is the absolute king of vegetables with anti-oxidants, vitamins and chlorophyll. Its taste is much more subject to controversy. Some people love broccoli, some people hate it and refuse it any form and some couldn’t give a fig. Most people who despise broccoli are victims of early Broccoli Abuse or Broccoli Trauma (BA/BT) victims. Well intentioned parents, eager to get vitamins and minerals into their children, buy canned or frozen broccoli and then proceed to cook it for hours until it forms a smelly green sludge on their plate. Once this horrific transformation has occurred, they, then very forcefully, insist the children eat it. The children, who have working taste buds and eyes, look at and smell this mass and refuse to eat it ever again.
A good British role model for making good broccoli is Henry Crabbe of the television show, Pie in the Sky. He buys the best tastiest Broccoli from his local producer, receives it direct from an organic source and cooks it fresh. There are many varieties of broccoli. The tastiest varieties are hybrids of heading and side shoot varieties.
What makes the difference between outstanding flavour and sludge is the season of the year and cultivation. The French, across the pond, coined a wine term terroir. Terroir is soil of the local environments, which influences the taste of the grapes. What is important to broccoli is a tasty variety and reasonably rich loamy soil and a correct choice of planting and harvesting. To maximize great taste, you should start planting broccoli as early as possible in the spring. When the heads are small and well-formed, they should be harvested and used immediately. This gives great flavour now and pushes tasty, delicious little side shoots, which keep growing back. In the heat of summer, don’t grow broccoli because it flowers. While the yellow flowers are pretty, the broccoli tastes bitter. To get the best taste, start another fall crop while the spring broccoli is fading. In the fall, you can begin harvesting small heads but it is a good idea to let them grow a little longer and wait until there is a frost or a chill. Broccoli harvested after a mild frost is probably the most richly flavourful broccoli.
Once you have harvested your broccoli or your green grocer has delivered it to you, you need to get it ready to juice. If you juice raw broccoli, it can have a strong veggie flavour that can even be bitter. Broccoli should be lightly cooked. There is a challenge of preserving nutrition by not overcooking the broccoli and also bringing out the flavourful aromatic oils hidden in the broccoli.
If you want healthy and even lushly sensual broccoli, there is a simple method. Take a cast iron pan and your favourite cooking oil like walnut or extra virgin olive oil. Heat the oil to low or medium heat. If you like a little excitement, you can add two cloves of fresh garlic to the oil. As the oil barely gets warm but does not smoke, you add the broccoli. You should use only the small florets and not the thick tough stems. When the broccoli starts to turn a dark green, turn the heat down a little and add half a cut of water or wine. Then put a lid on the broccoli and let it steam for five to seven minutes. Turn the heat off and transfer the broccoli to a bowl and let it cool. It is ready for use in a juicer with any of your favourite vegetables such as carrots or parsnips. This simple elegant preparation is very difficult to bollix up. It will work every time. If after the 364th days of simple broccoli, you may want a change of pace, and then you can add Dejon mustard or your favourite herbs like basil. In order to have tasty broccoli, use fresh broccoli, lightly cook it and let your creative chef imagination loose. You may even end up on Britons Best Bakers making a broccoli quiche or soufflé while you contently sip your broccoli juice.