Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dept. of Home Economics: Broccoli Stems

In an email, one of my Gentle Readers said "Up till now I have been throwing the stalks away but now I know what to do with them."  She was referring to the Cream of Broccoli Soup recipe I posted last week, but don't throw those stems away if you aren't a broccoli soup fan.  There are other things you can do with your broccoli stems.

Lightly peel the outside and then cut the stems in matchsrick pieces (also called "julienne;" click here for a turtorial).  When I julienne broccoli, I prefer to slice the stem in  about 1/8-inch circles, then stack two or three circles and slice them into matchsticks.  You get shorter matchsticks that are not all perfectly the same size, but this technique has its advantages.  The first cut (into circles) goes across the grain of the stem and cuts the tough lengthwise fibers into shorter lengths, resulting in a more tender, less fibrous finished product.  They still look like cute little matchsticks, they are just not all perfectly alike.

I'm not bothered by the lack of perfection, my friends.  We do not seek to emulate Martha Stewart here at Old Maid HQ.  Firstly, like my fellow spinster Jane Austen, "pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked."  Secondly, my food actually tastes good.

Once you have your matchstick pieces, you can:
  • Toss them in a stir-fry.
  • Use them in place of celery in soup.  (Make sure it's a strong-flavored soup such as a nice garlicky lentil or a flavorful minestrone.  Broccoli has a strong taste that can overwhelm more delicate flavors.  Experiment!)
  • Saute them with julienned carrots and use as a side dish.  Season with salt and pepper, or finish with a splash of soy sauce or a splash of vinaigrette toward the end of the cooking process.
  • Make the side dish above, adding a few julienned radishes.  They add a nice peppery bite.
  • Freeze the julienned broccoli stems for quick addition later to soups and stir fries.  They go right into the pan frozen.
  • Lightly steam the stems, chill them, and they are ready to be added with other veggies to pocket or wrap sandwiches.


  1. Oooh...that's a little genius, Maria. I'm guilty of tossing the stems.
    I can just hear my mother gasping in the background, "But you're throwing the best part AWAY! Cruciferous vegetables are terribly important."
    Food guilt.

  2. I just want you to know that ever since your first post on broccoli stems I have been filling my stash in the freezer. I'm almost ready for some soup. Thanks for the idea!