When it comes to eating broccoli and getting the most for the family budget, there is one simple cooking technique every home cook needs to know how to do: “shave” broccoli stalks. I teach this in my cooking classes and it blows people’s minds when they watch me turn gangly, fibrous stalks into tender, sweet, delicious curls. It doesn’t take great cooking skill or much money at all. It requires a little knowledge and a scalpel-quality vegetable peeler that costs less than $10.
Most people buy a bunch of broccoli at the grocery store and cut off the stalks and trash them before they start cooking. That’s something I am certainly guilty of. At around $3.99 a pound that adds up to throwing away $3.00 of grocery dollars spent, not to mention all the great fiber and nutrients fresh broccoli uniquely provides. Why would we do that to our precious pocketbooks, especially when the stalks are the best parts of the vegetable?
Shaving broccoli stalks with a razor-sharp peeler opens up a whole new world to enjoy the common cruciferous staple. “It’s amazing how one simple technique can transform the way families enjoy a vegetable at the dinner table,” says Lori Taylor, a fresh produce advocate known as The Produce Mom. “The thin slices of broccoli stalks make cooking much more versatile and fun. I use them as a base for fresh salads with cheese, dried fruit and nuts, or throw them in a hot wok with chicken or beef, and my kids and husband love them!”
Broccoli is a natural green powerhouse. In addition to providing dishes with great texture and flavor, mixing together shaved stalks with florets amps up protein, fiber and more – which helps keep off unwanted pounds. Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of “Eating in Color” explains: “Per cup, broccoli contains 5.5 grams of fiber, 94mg of calcium (which is half as much as an ounce of cheese), 74mg of vitamin C and a mere 52 calories. If you eat a cup of florets along with a cup of the stalks, the benefits are doubled. And, they both are loaded with anticancer properties.”
Cooking with shaved broccoli stalks is pretty simple, and something the whole family can get into once they catch on to the technique and taste. The process is just a few steps. Once you cut off the florets, slice the stalks longways in half. Then run the vegetable peeler on the outside to remove the thick outer skin. From there, just glide the peeler along the cut inner side to create thin, long shavings. Now, you’re ready to cook. To get the swing of it, here’s an easy dinner side dish, Skillet Stalks with Pine Nuts, that brings the tender, sweet stalks front and center.
Using the entire bunch of broccoli – the stalks, leaves and florets – in everyday cooking opens up so many new ways to use the beloved vegetable. It brings new excitement to the kitchen through one simple new trick and tool. Shaving the stalks will have you rethinking and eating broccoli in ways you never imagined. It will keep more pennies in your pocket each week and those pesky few pounds off, too.