Broccoli is a staple crop at our farm and a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamin A, C, calcium, potassium, and iron. We grow it mainly for our CSA customers, who can expect to receive it about 5 times during the regular summer CSA season. The main season for broccoli at our farm is June-October with peak production in July, August, and September. It makes it onto our market stand when we have extra!
What we grow
We grow several varieties of heading green broccoli. We also harvest side shoots which are like a broccolini or baby broccoli and can be used just like bigger heads with even less prep. These are bunched or bagged based on size.
Broccoli is definitely one of the more perishable crops we grow. It should be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, preferably in a plastic bag if you have one, and used within a few days. After that it will get a bit limp, which isn’t the end of the world, you’ll just want to move to using it in cooked preparations instead of raw ones.
Though broccoli doesn’t store super well (or long) in the fridge, it is a really great vegetable for freezing. If you have too much, cut it into florets, blanch it in boiling water for 4 minutes (try not to do more than a pound at once), drain well, and lay on a packing sheet to freeze. Once frozen, move pieces into freezer bags or other containers.
Preparing to cook your broccoli
One thing people find a little troublesome about organic broccoli is its preponderance for pests. Because of all the nooks and crannies, cabbage worms or loopers are sometimes hidden inside the plant.
Most organic farmers spray relatively non-toxic sprays on broccoli to keep off cabbage worms, but since our farm is a 100% no spray operation we have to resort to other means. We use floating row covers as a physical boundary and wash/soak broccoli at harvest, but as with all broccoli we suggest soaking it before preparation in case a worm sneaks by.
The best way to avoid them is to soak your broccoli head upside down in cold, salted water before getting started.
Cabbage worms do not produce toxins or any compounds that hurt human health or have food safety risks so if you find a couple during the season don’t toss the broccoli. There is nothing to fear here. It can be off-putting but it’s just an effect of eating cleaner food.
Cooking with broccoli
There are really 5 main methods for cooking broccoli:
- Raw: for snacking, or roughly chopped or sliced for slaws and other salads
- Roasted: great as a simple side dish all on its own, but also very easy to dress up with nuts, dried fruits, cheese, garlic or lemon
- Blanched: for crudité platters (or snacking), adding to eggs and frittatas, or preparing broccoli salads where you want a little less crunch
- Sauteed: this is probably the one we fall back on most often, adding it to stir fries, sautéing it quickly with some garlic, or topping with some cheese
- Steamed: steaming broccoli is a great way to cook it quickly, get it more tender, and keep that bright, green color- use steamed broccoli for adding to pastas, salads, and casseroles
Play with these methods and experiment with toppings and sauces to keep broccoli from getting boring. If you need more specifics, check out our favorite broccoli recipes below.
Using your broccoli stems
Not everyone realizes that the crowns of the broccoli are not the only edible part of the plant. That’s right, you can also eat the stalks that come right along with your broccoli. You can think of it a bit like kohlrabi. After peeling away the tough waxy exterior, you are left with a green, fibrous, sweet, and crunchy vegetable.
The peeled stems can be used in several ways. Here’s a few you may not have thought of:
- Cut them into simple snack sticks and drizzle them with a little olive oil and sprinkle of your favorite salt
- Chop them up and add them to pretty much anything for a little extra texture and heft
- Spiralize them to make noodles
- Turn them into broccoli rice (aka pulse pieces in a food processor until fine and rice-like)
- Blend them into a hummus
- Use them when making vegetable broth
- Add them to stews or soups
- Roast them and munch on them, or a add a quick sauce to the simple roasted stems
- Pickle them
The very best broccoli recipes according to our family
The Best Broccoli Salad
Recipe by The Leek & The Carrot
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 20 minutes
1/2 cup diced pecans
1 head broccoli, stem removed, florets cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 bunch scallions, sliced (you can use all of it, white and dark green parts)
1 green garlic or 2 garlic scapes, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. In a large saute pan, toast pecans (or whatever nut you decide to use) for 5-10 minutes until browned and smelling really delicious.
2. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, kohlrabi, scallions, dried cranberries and toasted nuts.
3. In a small bowl (or Mason jar with a lid that will be shaken) combine all dressing ingredients and whisk (or shake) until well-combined. Pour over veggies and stir to combine. It takes the veggies a little while to soak up the dressing so try to make it an hour ahead or the day before.
Pasta with Broccoli, Sausage & Whipped Ricotta
Recipe by The Leek & The Carrot
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1 pound broccoli
8 ounces pasta of your choice (we used penne)
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
Freshly ground black pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Put the sliced garlic in a small bowl and cover with 4 tablespoons olive oil.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water.
- While waiting for the pasta water to boil, prepare you broccoli. Cut the top into bite-size florets. Push to the side. Peel the stem with a vegetable peeler and then cut the stem into 1/4-inch thick coins. Keep the stems separate from the florets (you are going to cook them differently).
- Your pasta water is likely boiling now. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. When there are just 3 minutes left in the cook time for the pasta, remove 3 or 4 ladle-fuls of pasta water to a small bowl or measuring cup for later use. Then, add the broccoli florets to the pasta kettle. Drain the pasta and broccoli.
- Shape the sausage into four patties (like you are going to make hamburgers). Heat a cast-iron or other large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once oil is hot and just beginning to glisten, add the sausage patties. Cook, without moving, for 4 minutes so they patties can get nicely browned on one side.
- Flip the patties and pour the garlic (with all of that yummy infused olive oil) over top of them. Add the broccoli stems as well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more without moving. Then uncover, and break up the sausage into bite-size pieces. Add red pepper flakes and a ladle-ful of that reserved pasta water. Stir gently to get all those crispy brown pieces from the bottle of the pan into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and add the pasta. Pour another ladle-ful of reserved pasta water and stir everything to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 10 twists of freshly ground black pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon of the pre-ground stuff) until fluffy. Add to pasta along with the Parmesan.
- Stir once or twice to incorporate and then shake the pan to further combine ingredients. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper (or the remaining 1/4 teaspoon). Add more pasta water if you want a looser (thinner) sauce.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Sesame Tofu With Broccoli
Recipe by Bon Appetit
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
1-14-oz. block extra-firm tofu
1 large head of broccoli (about 1 lb.)
1-1″ piece ginger
1 garlic clove
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar or pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1½ teaspoon plus ¼ cup cornstarch, divided
1½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup grapeseed oil or vegetable oil, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Steamed white or brown rice (for serving)
- Drain one 14-oz. block extra-firm tofu and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut tofu in half horizontally through the equator (like a hamburger bun), then cut into 1″ cubes and pat dry again. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or large plate and set aside.
- Cut 1 large head of broccoli (about 1 lb.) into small 1″ florets. If your broccoli has a long stem, peel tough outer skin to remove the lighter fibrous layer, then slice stem ¼” thick. Finely chop 1 scallion and set aside for serving.
- To make the sauce, scrape skin from one 1″ piece ginger with a spoon, then grate on a Microplane into a small bowl. Smash and peel 1 garlic clove and grate into bowl with ginger. Add ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. light or dark brown sugar or pure maple syrup, 2 Tbsp. tahini, 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil, 1½ tsp. cornstarch, a pinch of kosher salt, and 3 Tbsp. water and whisk to combine. Set sauce aside.
- Sprinkle 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt over tofu and toss to coat. Scatter remaining ¼ cup cornstarch over tofu a tablespoonful at a time, tossing after each addition and gently pressing into the tofu pieces, until well coated on all sides.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or vegetable oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add broccoli, season with ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt and ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer broccoli to a plate. Wipe out skillet.
- Heat remaining ¼ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high. When oil is hot (it will start to shimmer), reduce heat to medium and add tofu in a single layer (work in batches if needed). Cook, turning every 3–4 minutes, until golden brown all over, 10–12 minutes total. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and let drain.
- Pour out any remaining oil in pan and wipe out. Return pan to medium heat. Whisk reserved sauce if it has separated, then pour into pan and cook until thickened and bubbling, about 20 seconds. Immediately remove pan from heat and add broccoli and tofu; toss to coat.
- Top tofu and broccoli with 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds and reserved scallions. Serve with steamed white or brown rice.
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
Recipe by NYTimes Cooking
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 1 hour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds broccoli, florets with stems peeled and trimmed to 3 inches
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups half and half
8 ounces very sharp Cheddar, grated, plus more for the top
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add broccoli, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is bright green and slightly tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a large cooking spoon, transfer broccoli mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Heat remaining 3 tablespoons butter in the same pot over medium heat (don’t worry about any remaining broccoli bits). Add flour and whisk constantly, cooking until the mixture has turned a pale golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in chicken broth until no lumps remain (it’ll thicken considerably at first), followed by half-and-half. Bring to a simmer and stir in cheese, nutmeg and all but 1 cup of the reserved broccoli mixture.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid has thickened and reduced by about 1/4 and the broccoli is completely tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Using a hand blender, purée the soup to desired consistency. (Some like to leave bits of broccoli in there. It is up to you how smooth or chunky the soup is.) Alternatively, transfer to a blender and purée to desired consistency.
- Season soup with salt and pepper, and divide among bowls. Top with remaining 1 cup broccoli, more Cheddar (if you like), and lots of freshly ground pepper.