One of my favorite cool season crops is broccoli. It is easy to grow, nutritious and especially flavorful when harvested fresh from the garden.
A trick I have learned to increase broccoli production is to leave a bit of stalk on the plant when harvesting the central head. Make the cut several inches below the head and small florets will emerge from the sides of the remaining stalk. To really be successful with this it is important to select a variety that is known to produce side shoots such as Goliath, Green Valiant, and Waltham 29. I also side dress newly harvested plants with a little 5-10-10 fertilizer to give them a boost. The smaller florets are just as tasty as the main harvest and also a bit more tender.
If I am looking for the same texture, but don't have any broccoli planted, I use Broccolini purchased from my local grocery store. Broccolini is actually a hybrid cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It looks like a long, slender version of broccoli. It is also called baby broccoli, asparation or tender stem. It has a peppery, sweet flavor that is delicious for stir-fries, salads and sautés.
This recipe is a nice twist on one of my old standbys, sauteed broccoli and garlic. If you can't find Broccolini, regular broccoli will work as well. Just increase the saute time from 2 minutes to about 5 minutes.
In a 6 to 8 quart stock pot of water add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Add Broccolini and boil for about 5 minutes. Broccolini should be tender but still crisp.
Drain broccolini in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Pat dry and set aside.
Select a nonstick skillet large enough to accommodate all the Broccolini without overcrowding. I use a 12 inch skillet and find it best to cook the Broccolini in 2 batches. If you encounter the same situation, simply split the amount of oil, red pepper flakes, chicken stock and garlic between each batch.
Heat olive oil in the skillet over medium high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 1 minute or until the garlic is a nice golden brown. Add Broccolini and chicken stock. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
Squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top, season with salt to taste and serve hot.
You can use water instead of Chicken Broth, if you prefer.
This dish is excellent as a side for a main course and I love to serve it as a before dinner finger food as well.
Time to prepare: 30 minutes.
This recipe is vegetarian.