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Five facts about broccoli

broc (Large) (Medium)
If you are of a certain generation (and heritage), there’s a good chance you hated broccoli growing up. Boiled within an inch of its life and leached of all colour and flavour, not to mention nutrients, the delights of this green head of wonder remained hidden.  

Of course now we know so much better. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, it’s so easily incorporated into recipes, we recommend always having some in your kitchen. Equally at home in warming soups and curries as it is stirfries and salads, it’s also readily available year round in Western Australia, from growers such as Bogdanich Farms in the Wheatbelt and Patane Produce’s suppliers in the South West. How lucky are we?

Here are five things you may not know about the not-so-humble brassica.

It has deep roots

Part of the brassica family that also includes cauliflower and kale, broccoli has been around for thousands of years with one high-ranking Roman reportedly so partial to it he ate nothing but broccoli for a month. The name comes from the Italian broccolo, meaning ‘the flowering crest of a cabbage’; it’s also the diminutive of brocco, meaning ‘small nail’ or ‘sprout’. For those who care about singular and plural nouns – there are some of us, still – broccoli is used interchangeably (or ‘are used’, as you prefer).

It’s oh-so-good for you

Did you know that a cup of broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange? And is so packed with vitamin A that it will help keep those eyes . Then there’s folate, potassium, maganese and iron – so many trace elements and minerals needed for good health. To have broccoli at its most nutritious, it’s best eaten raw or just barely blanched. This gorgeous green salad uses broccolini, a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli, but is just as pleasing with the original. Same goes for this bean and broccolini beauty.

It’s very versatile

Steam, stirfry, roast and, yes, even boil (for the right recipe) broccoli, the stems and florets can be enjoyed in so many ways. Chop up to drop into a spicy Asian stirfry a few minutes before serving so the nice crunch is retained. Steam the florets in a little butter and garlic to have with steak or fish. Sprinkle your favourite spices over florets and add a splash of beautiful local olive oil, such as Great Southern Groves or one of Sathya’s infused oils, and roast in the oven – those charred bits are so moreish. Use it for the base of a creamy soup or pop into your favourite curry. The choices are endless…

It’s very pretty

We eat with our eyes first, or so the saying goes. And that vibrant green, whether raw or quickly blanched and tossed through the dish of the day, always pops. If you grow it at home and forget to harvest in time, you’ll also end up with a very pretty plant. The buds that form the broccoli will burst into a sea of yellow flowers. And then you can just buy broccoli from your local grocer or farmers market. Win, win.

It stared down the haters

Australian children of a certain generation aren’t the only ones to have turned their noses up at broccoli. While keen gardener and American founding father Thomas Jefferson experimented with seeds brought over from Italy in the 1700s, at least one subsequent president loudly declared his loathing. George Bush’s declaration in 1990 that he was “president of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli” did not put off others, however, with the vegetable soaring in popularity across the nation. Just like in Australia, where we know when we’re onto a good thing.