Broccoli_WhatsFresh_10-11.jpgThe week’s vegetable is quite the workhorse around the world, providing a strong nutritional punch and plenty of flavor – despite what the first George Bush thinks of it. Vegetables can’t quite predict the future, but in hindsight one might think that this revelation into the Mommy issues the Bush family has should have warned us off from them for good.

When choosing broccoli at the markets, be sure to look for bright green specimens with no signs of yellowing, although slight purple is acceptable as the cold weather approaches. The florets should have tight crowns and show no limpness.

Most folks preparing broccoli cut the florets off the top and discard the thick stalk on the bottom of the head -- big mistake. While it takes a bit off effort to prepare, once the fibrous outer layer is peeled off the stalk it becomes the best part of the broccoli. You can slice or chunk it to be cooked with the florets or cube and use in a myriad of other places where florets would be too large or cumbersome.

To cook broccoli successfully it is necessary to make water, or other light flavored liquids, part of the equation. With this in mind the best options are to steam or blanch the broccoli in well-salted water regardless of if you intend to serve it plain with sea salt & butter or as a first step to cooking it further in a sauté, stir fry or oven roast. Regardless of steam or blanch, cook the broccoli till it just after turns bright green and you can pierce it easily with a knife. If you are going to cook the broccoli again in a next step, pull it out of the pot while there is still some resistance to your knife. Either way you will want to shock the broccoli in cold ice water to stop the cooking immediately and set the color.

Here are a couple of recipes to use the tasty broccoli in the local and national markets right now:

- Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry - this great recipe is from the New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill via the Amazon reader, go to page 2 of the reader and click on page 272, or buy it for less than $1.50 used.

- Cream of Broccoli Soup