Bring on the broccoli

Appearing in a farmers market near you, the eighth most popular vegetable will be making its debut in July.

With Michigan farmers markets in full swing for the summer, fresh, seasonal Michigan produce is abundant. As the eighth most commonly consumed vegetable, many may take interest in knowing that broccoli season is right around the corner. Typically, this cabbage family member becomes available in July.

The origin of the broccoli name is Italian and means the flowering crest of a cabbage. Broccoli is typically eaten raw or steamed and used in salads, casseroles or stir-fries. It boasts large doses of vitamin A and K and has properties that can help lower cholesterol when it is steamed. However, overcooking broccoli can make this vegetable soft and mushy, which typically means a loss of nutrients and flavor.

According to the Michigan Fresh Broccoli Fact Sheet, you should selecting dark green broccoli florets. If the florets are enlarged, opened, wilted or yellowish-green the broccoli is not fresh. Broccoli can be stored, unwashed, in a perforated bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer for approximately 3-14 days. Using it within the first 3 days will provide the best nutrient value and taste. Just prior to using, wash the head of broccoli thoroughly under cool running water and cut off the main stalk.

If choosing to grow your own, Michigan State University Extension provides a variety of gardening tips for several fruits and vegetables. Tip sheets for harvesting are also available. To read additional information about broccoli, or other Michigan fruits and vegetables visit the MSU Extension Michigan Fresh website. This website also offers cooking demonstration videos.

Recipes using many fresh fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, can be found in the online USDA Recipe Finder. Simply visiting this site and entering broccoli in the ingredient search will generate several recipes. The USDA Recipe Finder will also generate a shopping list if one is needed for any recipe on the site. Kansas State University Research and Extension’s Fix It Fresh! Recipe Series highlights a Beef, Broccoli and Cauliflower Stir-fry that is a quick entree low in calories, cholesterol and sodium that is also high vitamin C, A and iron.

This Broccoli Salad recipe is an example of a nutritious recipe submitted to the USDA Recipe Finder by the Arizona Nutrition Network:

Broccoli Salad

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1 red onion (medium, peeled and diced)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 8 bacon slices (cooked and crumbled, optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 3⁄4 cups of mayonnaise, low-fat

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Chill for 1 - 2 hours.
  4. Serve.

Cost:

Per recipe: $3.54

Per serving: $0.44

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