Friday, April 20, 2012

Veggie of the Week: Broccoli

Broccoli is a cabbage relative native to the Mediterranean. The vegetable was first introduced to Europe by the Etruscans, who came from what is now known as Turkey, through trade. The Romans took a great liking to broccoli, often cooking the vegetable with wine and spices and serving it with creamy sauces. Those in England and France had little enthusiasm for broccoli, as did Americans. Although the vegetable was brought to America more than 200 years ago, it’s popularity did not spike until the 1920’s. Italian immigrants grew their own broccoli and it began to catch on.

Broccoli is considered a superhero of vegetables with it’s many nutritional benefits including, vitamin A and C, calcium, and folic acid. It also has anti-oxidant properties which helps to prevent certain forms of cancer. Keep in mind that nutrient amounts are higher in cooked broccoli than in raw form because you are eating more. Cooking the vegetable breaks it down, making it easier to eat in larger quantities.  

Broccoli is a great side dish to all meals because of it’s versatility. It can be easily steamed, combined with other vegetables or served in a sauce. So, keep broccoli well stocked in your kitchen!

For the upcoming summer months, try this refreshing and easy to make broccoli salad.

Broccoli Salad

2 heads of fresh broccoli
1/2 c. red raisins
3/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 of a red onion 
1/2 lb. fried, crisp bacon cut in small pieces

1c. mayo
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. white vinegar 

Chop broccoli and onion. Combine with raisins, sunflower seeds and bacon in large bowl. In separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients together. When ready to be served, pour dressing over ingredients in larger bowl and toss. Enjoy!

For a more hearty dish, check out this delicious broccoli and cheese casserole.
Campbell’s Kitchen Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

1 can Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup 
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli flowerets, thawed or two heads of fresh broccoli
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c. dry bread crumbs
2 tsp. butter, melted

Stir the soup, milk, mustard, broccoli and cheese in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Mix the bread crumbs with the butter in a small bowl and sprinkle over the broccoli mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot. Enjoy!