Broccoli has always been my favorite vegetable. I can toss it into a cheese omelet, a lemon chicken dish, or sauté it in a stir fry and never get tired of it. The crunchy green is so versatile! It adds great texture and nutrition to any dish. However, I recently realized that I’ve been missing out on an important part of the vegetable: the broccoli stems.
Broccoli stems have just as much nutritional value as the flowery head. That includes fiber, calcium, magnesium, an impressive amount of potassium, and even a little protein. They can also lower your risk of heart disease. However, many of us don’t enjoy the stems because they’re tough to chew, and maybe not as fun to eat as the crown. If you don’t want to waste them, check out these delicious recipe ideas. You’ll never want to go back to throwing out your broccoli stems!
Chop, season, and roast.
If you’re looking for an easy, heart-healthy side dish, this roasted broccoli stem recipe from mom and chef Shannon Grinnan is for you. Grinnan begins by rinsing fresh, large heads of broccoli and chopping off the stems. Then, she peels each stem with a typical vegetable peeler and slices them into flat, penny-like chunks.
After tossing the sliced stems into a bowl, Grinnan adds a little olive oil and seasoning. (We recommend a blend of sea salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese.) She spreads the chunks on a sheet pan and bakes them in the oven. For a tender interior and a golden-brown color, try roasting the stems for about 10 minutes per side at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss them in a little lemon juice to finish.
Bonus tip: If you are also baking the florets in the same style, bake them on a separate sheet. The florets will cook much more quickly than the stems.
Sauté them in a mixed vegetable dish.
I was craving a broccoli and cauliflower side dish the other day (talk about a memory boosting dish!), so I decided it was the perfect time to put broccoli stems to the test. I took the large stalks and lightly peeled the outside to remove any woody pieces. Then, I took a chef knife and chopped the stems into bite-sized pieces.
I added chopped garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil, and a bag of riced cauliflower to a wide pan. Then, I tossed in the stems and the florets. Not wanting to waste, I chopped up the broccoli leaves and added those, too! (They have a mild, slightly bitter taste and hold up well when cooked.) I let the vegetables sauté until they softened, and the garlic became a little crispy. That was it.
I like the stems to be a little crunchier, but if you want them to really soften, add them to the pan first with the garlic and olive oil. Let them sit on medium to low heat before tossing in the riced cauliflower, broccoli leaves, and florets.
Blend the stems and add them to rice.
Blending your broccoli stems into rice is an excellent way to disguise them. After cooking up some rice using the stovetop or a rice cooker, chop off the stems as usual and peel the outside layer. Cut them into slightly smaller chunks, then toss them into a blender. Pulse the blender until the greens resemble rice. Mix them into your rice and enjoy your healthy carb side dish!
If you like, you can go on to make healthy fried rice by adding scrambled eggs, peas, shredded carrots, garlic, grated ginger, rice vinegar, and low-sodium soy sauce.
Toss chopped stems into soup.
Softer vegetables like spinach have the tendency to go mushy and don’t work well in soup, but the opposite is true with broccoli stems. These veggies are the perfect addition to soup because they hold their shape.
To make a vegetable soup with broccoli stems, simply peel off the outer layer and prepare them any way you like. Chop them into bite-sized pieces if you want them to resemble carrots or use a blender to give them a much finer texture. To make sure they soften, try sautéing them first at the bottom of the pan with other tough vegetables – like carrots and celery – before you add in any other soup fixings. Picky eaters will barely notice the addition of broccoli!
Create crunchy broccoli slaw.
Broccoli stems are perfect for a crisp, crunchy slaw. After peeling them, Martha Stewart suggests using a mandoline to slice them into flat planks. Then, stack all the planks and slice them into thin strips to create the famous julienned cut. If you don’t have a mandoline slicer, you can carefully cut the stems into planks using a chef knife. Stack the planks and slice them into thin matchsticks. Use a similar method to cut up carrots or simply shred them in a blender.
For a zesty, dairy-free slaw, try out a New York Times recipe, which features red bell pepper, cilantro, fresh ginger, and black sesame seeds. Or use Martha Stewart’s easy mix of mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, celery, and Granny Smith apple.
Slice broccoli stem “chips” for dip.
Ready for the easiest recipe yet? Use those broccoli stems to create the perfect chips for dip. Peel them as usual, then slice them on a slant into thin, flat “chips.” (No cooking required! They’re easy to chew.) Pair with your favorite ranch, blue cheese, vegetable dip, or onion dip and serve as an appetizer. It’s low-carb and reduces your food waste, making it a win-win.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.