We’ve got a simple recipe for Broccoli Alfredo from our Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook, in addition to broccoli growing, storage, cooking and nutrition info.
Sally Simpson, a volunteer cooking, tasting and testing recipes out of the Vermont Fresh Handbook tested the recipes. Her comments are below in italics.
Meatless Monday Recipe: Simple Broccoli Alfredo
(adapted from recipelion.com)
- 1 pound pasta
- 1 small head broccoli, cut into pieces (you may also use frozen broccoli)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups milk or cream
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- Cook pasta as directed on package.
- Put an inch of water in the bottom of a large pot and steam broccoli until slightly tender.
- Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-low heat and sauté garlic until golden. Add milk /cream, pepper, and salt, then simmer over low heat 10 minutes. Take care not to boil. Stir in Parmesan.
- Add broccoli to sauce and serve over hot pasta.
Notes: Cooked chicken can also be added to this dish, for family members not into the Meatless Monday challenge. For a thicker sauce, try adding a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt.
Comments from Sally:
- Cost is $6.03 and serves 4
- 15 minutes to make the sauce
- I would make a roux before adding the cheese. So after melting the butter and browning the garlic, stir in 2 Tablespoon of flour and whisk. Cook for 1 minute. Heat the milk before adding to the roux and whisk until smooth. Lower the heat and add the cheese. If the sauce is thick, thin with a small amount of milk.
Broccoli comes to us from the Mediterranean, where it has grown for centuries. It is a member of the Brassica family, meaning that is related to mustards, kale, and cabbage. Indeed, it probably originated from a form of flowering cabbage. Broccoli has been crossed with other plants to create some unique vegetables such as “broccolini” (a cross between broccoli and a Chinese green). Not surprisingly, the tree-shaped broccoli is also closely related to cauliflower. Broccoli heads are collections of tiny, immature flower buds atop branching stems; some types form tight heads, while others are “sprouting” varieties. Italians were the first to truly appreciate broccoli, but the vegetable slowly spread and is now popular worldwide both fresh and frozen.
Broccoli likes to grow in cooler temperatures, making it a good spring and fall crop. For spring, transplanting is recommended; even though seedlings are hardy, they will grow better if you start them inside 4 weeks before setting out. Broccoli is also a heavy feeder, meaning that you should provide plants with plenty of compost and rotate them around your garden from year to year. Considering that full plants need about 1 square foot each, give seedlings plenty of room. Like its relatives, broccoli is susceptible to attack by cabbage worms, which can be warded off with applications of Bacillus thurengensis, a low-impact pesticide. If you notice the roots of your plants becoming club-like, try adding limestone to the soil. Broccoli heads and/or florets should be harvested when the buds are still tightly closed and have not formed yellow flowers, which signal that the harvest window has gone by.
Cool broccoli immediately after harvesting or purchasing—do not wash it, as it stores better if not saturated with water. Wrap broccoli in a plastic bag and store it in the crisper drawer of your fridge, using as soon as possible. For long-term storage, you can easily freeze broccoli. Cut the stalks into bite-sized pieces, blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, and then plunge into cold water. Drain, pack into freezer bags, and store in your freezer for up to 8 months.
Broccoli contains the compounds sulforaphane and indole, both which have anti-cancer effects. Broccoli is also a great source of vitamins K, C and A, as well as fiber, B vitamins, folate, and minerals such as phosphorous, potassium and magnesium.
Rinse broccoli before using and check for any worms or caterpillars. Using a small, sharp knife, separate the florets from the main stalk, then dissect the head into pieces. The main stalk is also edible (and tasty), though you may want to peel it if the skin is tough. Stalks take longer to cook than florets, so start cooking them 2 minutes in advance. Broccoli is delicious steamed, boiled, sautéed, thrown into soups, or cooked into casseroles.
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