Here's buying, storage and cooking tips plus recipes for three of the most popular vegetables in the cabbage family - Broccoli, Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts.....
Broccoli is dark green vegetable which sometimes has a slightly purple tinge. It has compact clusters of buds on thick stems.
Broccoli is low in calories and vitamin-rich. One serving provides 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. It's also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, calcium, potassium and iron and very high in fiber.
Choose broccoli with a deep green or green with purple color. The clusters of buds, the flowerets, should be tightly closed and the leaves should be crisp. The stems should be tender and a lighter shade of green than the buds. Avoid broccoli with yellow or open clusters of buds, stems that are dry and tough, and broccoli with a strong odor.
To store fresh broccoli, refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag, in the vegetable crisper for up to 4 days.
Broccoli can be served raw, with a dip, or in salads. When cooked, broccoli a versatile side dish, topped with lemon juice, butter, cheese, or other sauces. It's used in creamed soups, as a potato topper, and as an ingredient in many casseroles and main dishes. An average bunch of broccoli weighs about 1 to 1-1/2 pounds. One pound fresh broccoli yields about 2 cups of chopped broccoli. One 10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli yields about 1 1/2 cups.
To cook broccoli, separate or slice the stems and florets, lengthwise, into uniform pieces. Since the flowerets cook more quickly than the stems, cut a few X's in the stems for more even cooking. Peel any tough stems before cooking. Chopping the florets and stems into small pieces will reduce the required cooking time.
To cook broccoli...
Place in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for five to seven minutes.
To steam broccoli...
Place in large saucepan with about 1" of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and steam for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the broccoli is tender-crisp.
To cook broccoli in a microwave oven...
Arrange broccoli stems in a circle on a microwaveable dish, with the florets toward the center. Add 1/4 cup water; cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, rotating the dish half way through the cooking time.
To stir-fry broccoli...
Stir-fry for two minutes, then add a small amount of water. Cover the pan and steam until tender-crisp.
Cauliflower has white, compact heads, known as the curd, and firmly attached medium green leaves.
It's high in vitamin C...one serving of raw or cooked cauliflower, one half cup, supplies 100% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C. Cauliflower is low in calories, high in fiber and it's also a good source of folate and potassium.
When buying cauliflower, select firm, heavy heads that are a white or creamy white color. Avoid heads with brown spots, which are caused by bruising during harvest or transportation, and avoid heads with loose open clusters. An average head of cauliflower is about 6" in diameter, weighs about 2 pounds, and yields 4 to 6 servings as a side dish.
To store fresh cauliflower, place it in a plastic bag and refrigerate in the vegetable crisper, stem side up, for up to one week.
To prepare cauliflower, remove the leaves, cut off the stem, and trim away any brown areas. Separate the head... Cut the florets from the inner core. Slice larger florets in half and cut the inner core into pieces.
Cut raw cauliflower into bite-sized chunks to eat raw with a dip. Add small chunks of raw cauliflower to a salad.
Rapid cooking of cauliflower will reduce the odors, keep a firmer texture, preserve the color, and reduce the loss of nutrients. Cooking times will vary, depending on the size of the florets.
To boil cauliflower...
Cooking cauliflower in a pot of boiling water produces a milder flavor, but to reduce the loss of vitamin C, keep the cooking time short. Place florets in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add a tablespoon of milk or lemon juice to retain the white color. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 4 to 6 minutes.
To steam cauliflower...
Place florets in large saucepan with about 2" of water. Add a tablespoon of milk or lemon juice to retain the white color. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and steam for about 3 to 5 minutes or to desired tenderness.
Stir cooked, mashed cauliflower into mashed potatoes to enhance their flavor and texture.
To cook cauliflower in a microwave oven...
Place about 2 cups florets, in a microwavable dish. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 3 minutes on high power, then let stand 2 minutes to complete cooking.
Green cauliflower, or "broccoflower" is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. It has the appearance of cauliflower with the greenish pigment of broccoli.
Brussels Sprouts look like tiny heads of cabbage. They have a slightly milder taste and a denser texture than cabbage. One serving of Brussels Sprouts, however, provides more than twice the vitamin C as an equal amount of cabbage. They're also low in fat and calories, very low in sodium, and a good source of vitamin A, folic acid and potassium and fiber.
Choose sprouts that are compact and firm with a true green color. Avoid sprouts that are yellow, wilted or puffy. One pound of Brussels Sprouts equals about four cups.
Store brussels sprouts in a loosely closed plastic bag and use within 3 to 5 days.
To prepare Brussels Sprouts, remove any loose or wilted leaves and trim the stems. To reduce cooking time, cut a cross in the bottom of the stems. Rinse thoroughly.
One quart of sprouts yields about sprouts yields about five servings.
To cook Brussels Sprouts...
Place the sprouts in lightly salted water, enough to cover completely. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender.
To serve with lightly browned butter...
For about 1 quart of cooked Brussels Sprouts, over low heat, melt about 3 tablespoons butter until it just begins to brown. Stir in about 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Pour mixture over hot, cooked sprouts.
Add sprouts in a pan of boiling water - about 1/2 cup. Cover and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired tenderness.
To cook Brussels Sprouts in the microwave oven....
Place one pound of Brussels Sprouts in a microwavable dish. Add about 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high power for 4 to 8 minutes or until tender, stopping to rotate dish and stir half-way through cooking time.
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This set is perfect for cooking, steaming, and blanching vegetables. The 3 piece set includes a 6 quart capacity stockpot, a steamer basket, and a stainless steel lid. It's crafted from stainless steel with a brushed satin finish exterior and accenting polished stainless steel bands. The tri-ply base ensures even heat distribution, cooking efficiency, and durability. It also features heavy-duty large loop stay-cool handles.