Playing Favourites

September 4, 2010

Broccoli, oh how I love thee.

Is there a better vegetable? I don’t think so. I have been sitting here, pondering this very question for a good ten minutes. The humble pea came close, yet it is too small, bordering on insignificant, to hold the title of the best vegetable. I’m sorry, Mr Pea, but it’s true. Zucchini was once held dear to my heart, yet in all honesty, without being dolled up in a chilli lipstick or olive oil dress(ing) it is quite the plain Jane.

Oh dear…this has turned into a veritable vegetable vanquishing. That was not my intention. My desire was to honour my love for the delightful broccoli plant.

I use broccoli often. It is a true chameleon, and feels at home in a great variety of cooking styles. Not only does it feel at home, it shines. It is the equivalent of the prodigal child, whose trophies overcrowd the mantle and A+ papers plaster the fridge. Broccoli is incredibly nutritious, containing high levels of vitamin C, as well as good amounts of other nutrients such as fibre, vitamin A, iron and folate.

When used in Asian dishes, such as a stirfry or a curry, the eager florets soak up the delicious sauce in the same way a parched plant embraces an unexpected shower. Each bite of broccoli involves a delightful crunch followed closely by a saucy burst of luscious liquid. Perfection. For a more Mediterranean feel, sauté some florets with it’s good friends garlic and chilli, and you will find that three is certainly not a crowd. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and you are living La Dolce Vita!

Broccoli has many siblings. Some I am more fond of than others (there are always black sheep in the family). I don’t tend to pay cauliflower much attention, as it often bores me. Whilst cabbage features in two much loved dishes in my household, I find it is a bit inconsistent, relying on other flavours or a cooking method to make it sing.

I thoroughly enjoy the company of Chinese broccoli. I have realised I lied when I previously stated that all I know how to say in Cantonese is “one wonton noodle soup, please”. I can also order “gai lan” – naturally, the only words I can speak relate to food. Steamed or stirfied gai lan, topped with oyster sauce, is one of my favourite things to eat in Hong Kong. It is consistently good.

I adore broccolini as much as regular broccoli! Whether sautéed, steamed or stirfried, the stalk stays crisp and meaty, and the florets delightfully delicate. Broccolini is a hydrid of broccoli and gai lan. Let’s not dwell on the fact that in the context of broccoli siblings, this relationship would be illegal.

Kale is like the cool sibling who has left for college and comes home every now and then, suddenly vegan and preaching new ideologies. It is a very ‘hip’ vegetable (don’t laugh, vegetables can be cool), and is a prominent feature in green smoothies. However it is not as familiar to me as broccoli, visiting my kitchen only occasionally.

So, whilst most of the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae siblings have their own talents and merits, none can compete with my beloved Broccoli. Yes, I play favourites. Although I must admit, if Kale visits from college more often I may too become a Nietzsche reading vegan.

Broccoli Soup

Ben shares my love of broccoli, and his favourite way to enjoy it is by tucking into a nourishing bowl of broccoli soup. I made this at his request, and it was much loved.

It is a very simple recipe with only a few ingredients. It is essentially pure broccoli. Therefore be sure to buy good quality, fresh broccoli. It will really make a difference to the flavour of the soup. I don’t think I whizzed mine for long enough, and hence the texture was a bit grainy.

I used Gordon Ramsay’s Broccoli Soup recipe: link .

The glossy sheen and vibrant colour of the soup was spectacular, and served alongside fresh olive bread and quality goats cheese… we were in heaven. Another A+ paper to plaster on the fridge.

Heidi xo
  • littleaspects September 4, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    That looks so good!! Yum! I love broccoli and can buy it locally grown, so this is definitely going to make it to the dinner table this week! Thanks for that.

  • Heidi September 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks! I hope you like it. Locally grown is the best.
    Heidi xo

  • Chanel11 September 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I'm right there with you on the broccoli-love – one of my fave ways to eat it is roasted with some olive oil, parmesan and salt and pepper – I will be bookmarking this recipe fo sho

  • Emma September 4, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Broccoli is my favourite vegetable! Will definitely try this one xx

  • Heidi September 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Chanel11 – ooh roasted broccoli, I have never even thought to do this! Thanks for the tip, will try it v soon.

    Emma – I'm glad that you share my broccoli love 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • phe September 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    your posts are just getting better and better!!!! i love your writing, it is just gorgeous!! (i speak with NO life-long friendship-related bias, NONE whatsoever…:D)

  • Heidi September 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks Phe! You're gorgeous. & of course, no bias 🙂

  • hollypop September 4, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    i once made gordons recipe. and to be honest. i didnt really like it.
    i love broc, raw, in salads,curries, steamed, in stirfry.. plain. but not this soup.
    i can't play favourites with vegies. i love them all.

  • Heidi September 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Good on you for being an equal opportunity vegetable lover, hollypop 🙂 I can understand how some people wouldn't like the soup. And it really solely relies on the flavour of the broccoli. We liked it, so I will make it again, but I will also keep my eye out for other broccoli soups!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) September 6, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I agree 100% Brocc is my all time fav veg!!

  • Iron Chef Shellie September 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    wow look at the colour! I love broccoli but never made soup. Should definitely try it!

  • lesdad September 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Oh bud; love your use of metaphor in your writing. Loved this particular bog 🙂

  • Heidi September 7, 2010 at 7:22 am

    thanks dad. you are so kale xo

  • Denita September 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I'm definitely going to make this! Maybe on Sunday. And definitely doing the olive bread. How wholesome! And vegetables can totally be cool. Except for lima beans. They're a little nerdy.

  • blushingstrawberries December 4, 2010 at 10:59 am

    It almost worries me that there are two of us out there who spend time sitting and debating the virtues of our favourite vegetables!

    Broccoli is amazing but I remain a humble pea devotee, happiest to eat them by the bowl full with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt 🙂

  • Heidi December 5, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Denita – yes lima beans are totally nerdy 🙂

    blushing strawberries – hehe, yes, I think we're in the minority 🙂 Peas with lemon and a pinch of salt sound divine.

    Heidi xo