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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Battle of the Broccoli

My CSA pick-up day is Monday, so when Sunday rolls around only the least preferred veggies are left in the crisper. The best things are consumed on Monday and yesterday was a perfect example: we ate all the goat cheese and bok choy as soon as we got it. The spinach and mushrooms will get used on a pizza tomorrow. I have a feeling the eggplants are going to get left in the fridge until the end of the week this week. Not because there is anything wrong with eggplant, but we have eaten a lot of eggplant in the last couple weeks. Last week, the broccoli was the rejected one. So, on Sunday night it was time to eat the broccoli; if it got left until Monday when all the fresh food arrived, it would probably end up forgotten, and I really hate wasting food. 

When I eat out, I love broccoli in dishes, but when I make it at home it is generally lack luster, boring, and usually under or over cooked. I especially love garlic broccoli and tofu at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Fan Tang. And so, I decided to make Chinese style garlic broccoli and tofu over white rice. I found a recipe from Vegetarian Food that claimed it would only take 20 minutes and looked incredibly simple, and we had all the ingredients already. The recipe certainly looked like a winner, so I decided to try it. I did change it up some, however. I used: 

1 onion
5 large cloves garlic
enough olive oil to saute the onions, garlic, and broccoli
the florets of three heads of broccoli
1/2 of a block of extra firm organic sprouted tofu (not pressed, sprouted tofu is much denser than regular tofu)
2 Tablespoons of minced fresh ginger
a lot of cayenne pepper (I like things spicy)
3 tbsp of corn starch
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water

Broccoli and Tofu in Garlic Sauce Recipe

The recipe took longer than 20 minutes, probably because I obsessively clean my rice and am not a super fast vegetable chopper, but it turned out delicious. I almost feel silly for ordering this dish at Chinese restaurants my entire life and never even trying to make it at home before. The sauce is literally the same sauce you receive when ordering this out! There were no left overs...

This recipe used all the florets of my broccoli, but I was left with the stems, which looked like way too much edible food to chuck in the countertop compost container. So, I stuck them in the fridge and looked for recipes that used the broccoli stems. I found one that had a very similar feel to the first but used the stems instead: "spicy stir fried broccoli stems recipe". I thought it would be fun to follow in the footsteps of my battle of the beets piece and again compare the performance of the bottom and the top of a plant in a similar recipe. But, I also realized that the beet experiment left me eating so many quinoa beet patties in a week that I am downright sick of them. 

Instead of cooking the broccoli stems in a spicy stir-fry, I cooked them with some other veggies and tempeh. First, I sauteed a white onion and 4 large garlic cloves in coconut oil with a dash of sesame oil. Next, I added sliced summer squash, sliced broccoli stems and cubed tempeh and cooked over medium heat. When the squash was soft I added chile powder and cayenne pepper and chopped green peppers and stirred well. Then I laid bok choy on top of the other veggies and waited until it wilted before stirring it in, cooking for several more minutes and then serving. This turned out well, but the bok choy was the star of the show.

These two recipes were so different that I am not sure I can declare a true winner. The florets did a great job holding a lot of the delicious garlic sauce and the sliced stem added some needed crunch to its own recipe. I think it may be a draw: brocolli stems and florets are both pretty awesome.