Broccoli Stem Marrow: Start Treating Vegetable Stalks like Bones

September 13, 2015

These are broccoli stalks like you've never seen them before.

Broccoli Stalks

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.

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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. 

Broccoli Marrow with Pecan Garlic Butter

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.

Broccoli Marrow with Pecan Garlic Butter by savorthis 

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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • savorthis
  • Panfusine
  • boymeetsgirlmeetsfood
  • Greenstuff
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


savorthis September 21, 2015
Thank you for featuring my recipe! While we had a pretty sad growing season here thanks to massive hail storms early on, I do have a couple options for this recipe again: one broccoli plant that won't likely make florets in time but does have some nice stalks, and a massive kalettes plant which has just the tiny beginnings of baby florets (or whatever they might be called). I'm excited to see how that one tastes.
JANNIE D. September 15, 2015
Mom always used the whole Broccoli to saute down in butter and adds to cornmeal to make Broccoli Cornbread, the stalks add the moistness and sweetness it's a Family fav!
Panfusine September 14, 2015
this article opens up so many possibilities with broccoli stems, thanks Lindsay! My Grandmother used to make a relish out of the 'marrow' from Cauliflowers, (broccoli was unheard of in India then) dice the center, add salt, chili powder, a pinch of turmeric & asafetida and a a bit of fresh crushed mustard seeds. Heat some oil to smoking and pour over the mix. add the juice of a lime and serve up fresh as a relish.
Another recipe that comes to mind is using up the meshy centers of pumpkins and squashes into a hummus like 'chutney' . simple saute the stringy mesh, add it to some toasted chana dal, and process into a thick chutney (I'll try to recreate it and share it on Food52, now that the pumpkin season is here)

Lindsay-Jean H. September 14, 2015
Oh I'm so happy you commented. I'd made a note about your use of squash guts (probably mentioned on the Hotline at some point) and had been meaning to contact you about it. Yes, please share the recipe!!
boymeetsgirlmeetsfood September 14, 2015
Love this idea. We always thinly slice our broccoli stems and throw them into stir fries- I can't imagine ever throwing out such deliciousness!
Greenstuff September 13, 2015
When I was in college, I lived for a couple of years in a house mostly made up of immigrants and children of immigrants from Guangdong (we called it Canton then). We did a lot of Chinese cooking; they used the broccoli stems and often tossed the florets.
boulangere September 13, 2015
I don't understand buying a bag of broccoli. If at a farmers market, as in any of my local grocery stores, I can pick and chose among whole heads and stems and fill a bag of my own. I'm very happy to have the stems. Shaved, as Sam suggests, steamed, and pureed along with an inch or two of horseradish root, some cream and butter, and they're a most amazing foundation for any kind of braised meats. Sort of like polenta or potatoes without the carbs.
Lindsay-Jean H. September 14, 2015
That sounds fantastic (and I vote for adding it to the site as a recipe, please!)
boulangere September 14, 2015
Thanks, Lindsay, I've been thinking of writing it up, and I suppose there's no time like the present.
Bevi September 13, 2015
I do this with my broccoli stalks:
You can add nuts or dried fruit as you wish. And any radish will do.
Lindsay-Jean H. September 14, 2015
Thanks for sharing, I look forward to trying it!
lapadia September 14, 2015
And then there are a couple recipes of mine that have been on
f52, for 3 years or more, using stems and all:
Bevi September 14, 2015
Yes. Both these recipes have been in the rotation in our house for years. It would be great to feature longtime recipes, not just the recipes that have been captured in photos by food52 staff photographers. Such a waste of talent on the part of crowd sourced recipes.
boulangere September 14, 2015
There was this thread on the Hotline about a year ago:
Lindsay-Jean H. September 14, 2015
Bevi, I'd just like to point out that at 3 years old, this recipe from savorthis is in fact a longtime one -- once it's selected, then it is photographed.

My goal for this column is to only feature recipes from this site, so please please, everyone, tell me about all of the great recipes lurking in the archives that use any type of overlooked kitchen scraps.
Sam1148 September 13, 2015
I peel off the outer layer slice them into 'coins' steam them just a bit and drizzle them with sesame oil and a few red pepper flakes.
You can also peel them slice into coins and put in the fridge with white vinegar to make a pickle.
Lindsay-Jean H. September 14, 2015
Yes! I've been giving them the sesame oil and red pepper flakes treatment thanks to you (must have been from you sharing on a Hotline thread at some point).
Sophie September 13, 2015
I love the recent 'root to stem' movement in food - very keen to try this out! I might have imagined using the stem in a stock or something, but cooking it to approximate a marrow texture? I'm very intrigued!
Alexandra G. September 13, 2015
I love this article! For the longest time I put the stems in my compost pile, until one day I thought, 'Well if I can eat the leaves on beets and celery, why not the stalks of broccoli?'