These are broccoli stalks like you've never seen them before.
Pick up a bag of broccoli from your grocer’s freezer aisle and the picture on the package will promise you beautiful bright green broccoli tops. Open the bag, though, and you’re almost certainly setting yourself up for disappointment: It's never filled with solely florets, and all too often there is a disappointingly high ratio of stem to floret pieces.
That disappointment stems (sorry) from the fact that we’ve all been misled: Somewhere along the line—perhaps thanks to perfectly arranged crudité platters—we’ve been taught that the flowery tops are the part of this brassica that we want to eat.
With this recipe for grilled broccoli stems topped with a slightly spicy, nutty butter, Food52er savorthis proves that the stems are just as valuable as the florets. Her inspiration came from the blog Ideas in Food. She was browsing the archives and stumbled across an article about using brussels sprouts stalks like bones—cooking them and scooping out the tender “marrow” in the center. She figured the same principle would apply to broccoli stalks, and she was right: Get ready to turn an underappreciated scrap into a dinner-party-worthy dish.
Although this method will work with any broccoli stems, it works best with later-season broccoli's longer, woody stems—they'll most closely approximate the sensation of scooping marrow from bones. And don’t bypass her suggestion to check for tenderness: Variations in broccoli stalk size will have a significant impact on cooking time.
Makes 1 cup sauce and lots of broccoli stalks
A pile of broccoli stalks
Neutral oil with a high smoke point
6 tablespoons butter
1 handful chopped pecans
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Know of a great recipe in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!
First photo by James Ransom, second photo by Bobbi Lin