During my farm apprentice days, I learned a lot about how to get the most food out of a plant. For instance, I discovered that, though less tender than the leaves, kale stems are quite sweet; now I routinely add them to sautés and smoothies. I was thrilled, too, when I found out that the entire broccoli plant is not only edible, but delicious as well. In fact, the leaves and stems of our heirloom broccoli were some of my favorite treats to snack on as I labored in the field.
There are many more ways to enjoy the lesser-used parts of the broccoli plant than simply raw, and one of the tastiest and most versatile is a puree. I like to add a generous amount of mustard for acidity and heat, chopped dill for freshness, a glug of olive oil to give it a silkier texture, and just enough salt to make the flavors pop. The puree’s light green color and spicy kick make it reminiscent of wasabi, and for this reason it is perfect to serve as a bed for seared salmon. Lately, though, I’ve been using it as a dip for spring’s radishes and carrots, because you know what I like to accompany my vegetables – more vegetables!
The recipe below is a go-to of mine, but broccoli stem puree is endlessly adaptable. Try adding roasted garlic, other spices or vegetables, or, later in the year, swap out the dill for basil. Use tahini, lemon juice and cumin to create a hummus-inspired version.
Broccoli Stem Puree
2 broccoli stems, approximately 6 inches in length each (or about ¾ lb total)
1 heaping tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
½ c loosely packed chopped dill
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel the tough outer layer of the broccoli stem. Cut the stems into 1-inch pieces.
2. Boil the broccoli stem pieces until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Drain the broccoli.
3. Add the broccoli, mustard and olive oil to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. (Alternately, add to a bowl and use a potato masher or fork to make a more rustic broccoli mash.)
4. Add the dill and salt and process until the dill is about evenly distributed. Taste, and add more salt if needed.
Gruner Veltliner, the signature white grape of Austria, was born to pair with green vegetables. It’s bright, citrusy character coupled with lively herbal notes bring out the best in your veggies.