By Kelsey Casselbury 2017-03-31 17:24:36
FIRST, IT WAS THE HEYDAY OF KALE. Then, cauliflower burst onto the scene and claimed its dominance. When, oh when, will poor ol’ broccoli ever get its rightful turn in the spotlight? While the funny-looking, strong-smelling, sharp-flavored veggie might not be as disdained as the Brussels sprout (which, by the way, has also experienced a recent renaissance, probably thanks to pairings with bacon), it’s not always easy to get kids—or adults, for that matter—to really appreciate broccoli for all it offers. Even former President George H.W. Bush actually banned broccoli from being served on Air Force One in 1990, vocally and publically proclaiming his contempt. (Outraged, California broccoli farmers delivered 10 tons of broccoli to the White House to protest his comments.) But if you can get past your initial skepticism, broccoli does offer myriad benefits. In fact, these “little trees” are nutrient all-stars, gifting their consumers a healthy dose of vitamin K (involved in blood clotting), vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant), fiber (promotes digestive health), potassium (essential to nerves and heart contraction) and folate (makes and maintains cells in the body). On top of that, cruciferous vegetables—and broccoli is one—are suspected to have anti-cancer properties. We’re not the first to ponder the conundrum of getting folks to appreciate broccoli for what it offers. In 2013, major league advertising agency Victors & Spoils were challenged to create a fictitious campaign (no actual client was involved) to sell more broccoli. “Challenge” was considered an understatement. How to effectively improve the image of a veggie that most people described as “overcooked” and “soggy”? The competitive ad team persisted, creating three potential campaigns. These just might give you some inspiration as to how to sell broccoli to your students: • “Give a bro a bro-quet”: Guys don’t need flowers—but they do need nutrition. This campaign suggested that friends show their affection with a bouquet of broccoli. • Broccoli vs. kale: Who says kale is the only superfood around? This campaign spawned a few clever taglines, including “What came first: kale or the bandwagon?” “Eat fad-free: broccoli vs. kale” and “Broccoli: now 43% less pretentious than kale.” • The alpha vegetable: Broccoli shouldn’t be relegated to side dish status! Cute campaign lines included “Goes great with a side of steak” and “Never gets creamed.” If none of those ideas inspire you, then perhaps learning a bit more about this wholesome vegetable can help you make its case to your students—or, if you’re not a fan yourself—convince you that broccoli might be worth another try. Broccoli’s Doppelgangers There’s more than type one of vegetable in the supermarket with the word “broccoli” in its name, including broccolini, Chinese broccoli, broccoflower and broccoli rabe. None of these vegetables are actually broccoli, although the first three are related. Broccolini is not baby broccoli, though it looks like it could be, given its similar head and long thin stalks. Broccolini is actually a hybrid of traditional and Chinese broccoli, and it only became available in 1993. While you’re likely to keep only the florets and throw away the leaves and stalks of broccoli (a mistake, though we’ll talk more about that later), the florets, stalks and leaves of the broccolini are typically served in one piece. Chinese broccoli, also known as kailan, gai-lan and Chinese kale, doesn’t look anything like standard broccoli. Instead, it has flat leaves and thick stems, both of which are much more palatable after being steamed or sautéed. Broccoflower, which is really Romanesco, looks somewhat like broccoli or cauliflower, but has a spiral, fractal pattern. It kind of looks like a bunch of mini pale green Christmas trees! It’s been around quite a while, but probably was created using selective breeding by Italian farmers in the 16th Century. Finally, broccoli rabe is not related to broccoli at all, but rather is a cousin of the turnip. You might see this vegetable under the name broccoli raab or rapini, but you can use it like any other leafy green, such as kale or Swiss chard. Its peak season is in the winter months. Sweet S’talk But let’s get back to the real thing. It’s second nature to toss the stalks of fresh broccoli into the trash, right? Despite their tough exterior, the stalks are edible. Just take a paring knife and peel off the outer layer to uncover a tender inner portion. (And even those peelings are usable in making a vegetable stock). Now, what do you actually do with those tender stalks? Consider shredding them into salad or coleslaw. (In fact, the stalks tend to be the bulk of the prepackaged broccoli slaw that you see in the produce section of the grocery store.) You could also steam and puree these for a flavorful cream of broccoli soup. Order Up! There’s more than one way to prepare broccoli, and you might be surprised at how different cooking methods drastically change the flavor of the vegetable. If you only have a few minutes, you might want to microwave steam broccoli—it’s by far the quickest method. Just put the broccoli in a microwave-safe dish and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Cover the dish and cook on high for three to four minutes, or until it’s done to your preferred level of crunch. You also can stovetop steam this veggie, adding 2 to 3 inches of water to a saucepot, using a steamer basket—you don’t want the water to touch the bottom of the basket—and bringing the water to a simmer. Add broccoli and steam for 4 to 5 minutes. If you prefer the bright green color and crunch of raw broccoli, but you prefer it to be slightly cooked, blanch or “shock” it. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the vegetable and cook for only a minute and a half. Have a bowl of ice water ready and dump the hot broccoli into it immediately; this stops the cooking. You’ll have vivid green broccoli with a nice crunch, but won’t be serving it completely raw. The final two preparation methods are probably the two you have used the most: sautéing and roasting. For the first, heat oil in a pan and completely dry your broccoli (it will steam rather than sauté if there’s too much moisture). Add the florets, along with a little salt, and continue to stir until the broccoli is tender. If you’ve never tried roasting broccoli, you’re in for a treat—this cooking approach allows the florets to get crunchy and nutty, opening up a whole new flavor. Preheat your oven to 425°F, and toss the broccoli in some olive oil and salt. (Try experimenting with other herbs and spices, too.) Spread the vegetable in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for about 20 or so minutes, until the tops have started to brown. What about frozen broccoli? After all, in many foodservice operations, this is the type of broccoli used most often—it’s just so easy to prepare! The key to using frozen broccoli is to cut cooking times in half, at least, because it becomes overcooked oh-so-easily. While you can serve broccoli steamed on the side, it’s also ideal in casseroles, stratas, frittatas and stir-fries. You can even add it to the top of pizzas, although you’ll want to roast it first to get rid of its extra water—or else you’ll end up with a soggy pizza. Thinking Further Than the Floret You can steam, roast and blanch all you want, but sometimes you may opt to do something a little different. You’d be surprised at just how diverse broccoli can be: • Broccoli Fritters. Kids love handheld snack items, and this has the bonus of vegetables being added to the batter! Cut the broccoli florets into small pieces and then steam them until tender. Once cooled, mash them up and combine them with a fritter batter. You can bake them instead of frying, to meet K-12 nutrition standards. Add a Greek yogurt dipping sauce for a little something extra. • Broccoli Rice. Cauliflower rice is all the rage, but you can apply the same approach using broccoli. Grate it or put it in a food processor. Still too much work? Some stores sell a pre-rice broccoli alongside other prepared raw vegetables. • Broccoli Coleslaw. Give that cabbage a reprieve! Grate or cut the broccoli into small pieces, particularly the large broccoli stalks, and combine it with your favorite coleslaw dressing. You can add in some slivered carrots for a little extra color. Rock Out With Broc Say it out loud: It’s time for a broccoli revolution! Kick that kale to the curb—no, wait! They all have a place in the kitchen; simply give broccoli its due. If you read, in eight months (or so) time, that broccoli is being named the hot vegetable trend of 2018 (or 2019), just remember you heard it here first, folks. Crunchy Hawaiian Chicken Wrap 2 lbs. Mayonnaise, light 3 cups White vinegar 2 lbs. Sugar 2 ½ ozs. Poppy seeds 2 ozs. Onion powder 2 ozs. Garlic powder 2 ozs. Chili powder 6 lbs. Broccoli, fresh, shredded 4 lbs. Carrots, fresh, shredded 1 lb., 9 ozs. Baby spinach, fresh, chopped 2 lbs., 10 ozs. Pineapple, crushed, canned in 100% juice, drained 13 lbs. Chicken, cooked, diced into ½-in. pieces* 100 Whole-wheat tortillas, 10-in.* SERVINGS 100 (Two halves) PER SERVING 308 cal., 6.4 g fat, 24 g pro., 41.5 g carb., 5.5 g fiber, 408.5 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN* 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 1 ¾-oz.-eq. whole grains, ¼ cup dark green vegetable, ⅛ cup red/orange vegetable, ¼ cup other vegetable 1) To prepare the dressing, combine the light mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder. Mix well and refrigerate at 40°F. 2) To prepare the sandwich filling, combine the shredded broccoli, carrots, spinach and the crushed pineapple. Mix in the dressing. Add the chicken. 3) Portion the filling with a No. 6 scoop (⅔ cup) onto the center of each tortilla. Roll in the form of a burrito and seal. Cut diagonally in half. Two halves equals one serving. *Note: The chicken in this recipe credits 1 oz. = 1 oz. meat/meat alternate. The 10-in. tortilla in this recipe credits as 1 ¾ -oz. whole grain. Credits vary between brands. Check your product labels and adjust the meal pattern contribution as needed. Recipe, Photo, Meal Pattern and Nutrition Analysis: USDA Food and Nutrition Services’ Team Nutrition, www.fns.usda.gov/tn Cheesy Mac and Trees 6 ¼ lbs. Whole-grain pasta, rotini or penne 6 ½ lbs. American cheese, reduced-fat, low-sodium 4 ½ lbs. + 6 cups Cheddar cheese, reduced-fat, low-sodium 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, reduced-fat 2 gals. Chicken stock, low-sodium, reduced-fat 1 gal. Milk, 1% 9 lbs. Broccoli florets, chopped 3 lbs. Red bell peppers, diced 2 tsps. Black pepper 1 cup Flour, whole grain-rich 1 cup Vegetable oil SERVINGS 100 (1 ½ cups each) PER SERVING 335 cal., 14.8 g fat, 23 g pro., 32 g carb, 4.4 g fiber, 577 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 1-oz-eq. whole grain, ¼ cup dark green vegetables 1) Cook the pasta al dente (2 minutes less than you would cook pasta for immediate service). Set aside. 2) Blanch the rough-chopped broccoli and diced peppers by immersing them in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, and then cool rapidly in an ice bath. 3) On the stove, using a medium-sized sauce pot, make a roux by combining the vegetable oil and flour and whisking until they are blended to a paste-like consistency. 4) In a steam kettle on medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer, add the roux and mix thoroughly. As the milk thickens, add the chicken stock. 5) When the mixture thickens to a medium consistency, add the three cheeses slowly, reserving 6 cups of the cheddar cheese. Mix well to incorporate the cheese into the milk. 6) Add the blanched vegetables and the cooked pasta to the sauce. 7) Season with black pepper to taste. 8) Transfer the mixture to four 2-in.-deep serving pans and top each with 1 ½ cups of the reserved cheddar cheese. 9) Bake in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Cover and hold according to HACCP guidelines. 10) Serve the pasta using a 12-oz. spoodle. Note: If prepping the veggies and pasta the day before serving, cool the pasta, broccoli and peppers following HACCP procedures and store covered in a refrigerator. Recipe and Photo: Alliance for a Healthier Generation, www.healthiergeneration.org Meal Pattern and Nutrition Analysis (powered by Meals Plus): Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.evolution ofthelunchlady.com Kitchen Wisdom • Prepping the day before worked well because the pasta and blanched vegetables were not wet [when they went into the bake]. • For the older grades, a sprinkle of chipotle seasoning on top really adds some nice flavor and a little extra color. • “Shocking” the broccoli in ice water really set the bright green color and made the broccoli look fresh and yummy instead of an army green. • In Steps 3 and 4, if you add a hot roux to a hot liquid, it will be more likely to clump. I would change that direction to Cheesy Broccoli Egg Muffins 11 lbs., 4 ozs. Pasteurized whole eggs, frozen 5 lbs., 4 ozs. Chopped broccoli, frozen 3 lbs., 2 ozs. Cheddar cheese, shredded, reduced-fat, reduced-sodium 3 Tbsps. Garlic-and-herb seasoning, salt-free 2 tsps. Salt 2 tsps. Black ground pepper 1 oz. Pan spray SERVINGS 100 (3.8-oz. muffin) PER SERVING 130 cal., 9 g fat, 10 g pro., 3 g carb., >1 g fiber, 190 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 2.5-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, ⅛ cup dark green vegetable 1) Thaw the pasteurized eggs and the broccoli. Pull five 24-count muffin tins (2 ¾-in. cup) and place at workstation. Spray lightly with pan spray. 2) Pour the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them well. Whisk in the garlic-and-herb seasoning, salt and pepper. 3) Open the thawed broccoli package and drain well. Place 0.84 ozs. in each muffin cup. Add ½-oz. cheese per cup. Top with the seasoned eggs; each muffin cup should be three-quarters full. 4) Bake in a preheated convection oven at 375°F for 17 to 20 minutes or until an internal temperature of 155°F is reached and the muffins are lightly browned. 5) Remove from oven. The muffins will be puffy, but sink as they rest. Let them rest for two minutes, and then remove them from pans onto a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and place in warmer. 6) Alternatively, place egg muffins in hot sandwich wrap. Place wrapped muffins on sheet pan and place in warmer. Note that a wrap will change the meal pattern and nutrition analysis. Recipe, Photo, Meal Pattern and Nutrition Analysis: American Egg Board, www.aeb.org Kitchen Wisdom • Make sure to have good quality frozen broccoli florets. • Consider reducing the garlic seasoning and add a cheese slice on top of the egg mixture instead. • The procedure is very time-efficient. • Use a jumbo muffin pan and smash defrosted tater tots on the bottom for an awesome potato “crust.” • Make sure to chop the broccoli very fine. • This is a great item to pair with a flavor station. Spicy, herby, savory, there’s no wrong way to spice these up! Beef and Broccoli 7 ½ lbs. Beef chuck roast 10 ¼ lbs. Broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 cup Cornstarch 1 cup Garlic, minced 1 cup Ginger, minced 2 ⅓ cups Oil 2 cups + ¾ cup Soy sauce 1 ½ cups + ½ cup Cider vinegar 2 tsps. Garam masala 1 gal. Water 6 ¼ lbs. Brown rice, uncooked 1 ½ cups Brown sugar 7 cups Chopped scallions SERVINGS 100 (½ cup meat and broccoli, ⅔ cup rice) PER SERVING 240 cal., 10 g fat, 8.8 g pro., 29.7 carb., 3.4 g fiber, 267 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN ANALYSIS ½-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 1-oz.-eq. whole grain, ⅓ cup dark green vegetable 1) Trim the meat and slice it into ½-in. pieces. 2) In a processor or buffalo chopper, mince the garlic and ginger. 3) Toss the meat slices with the garlic, ginger, ¾ cup soy sauce (reserve 2 cups) and ½ cup cider vinegar (reserve 1 ½ cups) in a large bowl and let the meat sit in the marinade for 30 minutes. 4) Add the cornstarch to the mixture and toss well. 5) Prepare the brown rice according to package instructions. Hold warm according to HACCP protocols. 6) In a tilt skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the marinated meat slices and cook, letting a crust form on the meat. When cooked through, remove the meat from the skillet and set aside. 7) Cook the broccoli, adding it to the tilt skillet. Add 1 gallon of water to let the broccoli steam. It will become tender in 10 to 15 minutes; stir from time to time. 8) Return the cooked meat to the skillet, adding it to the steamed broocoli. 9) Combine the remaining 2 cups of soy sauce, remaining 1 ½ cups of cider vinegar, the garam masala and the brown sugar in a bowl and whisk together. 10) Stir the sauce and scallions into the hot cooked rice. 11) Serve by portioning ⅔ cup of rice mixture topped with ½ cup of the meat and broccoli mixture. Recipe and Meal Pattern Analysis: Project Bread, www.projectbread.org Photo: jiunlimited.com Nutrition Analysis (Powered by Meals Plus): Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.evolutionofthelunchlady.com Roasted Parmesan Broccoli 6 lbs. Broccoli florets, fresh, raw ½ cup Olive oil ¾ tsp. Garlic powder ¾ tsp. Salt ¾ tsp. Ground black pepper ½ cup Lemon juice ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated SERVINGS 30 (½ cup each) PER SERVING 70 cal., 4.5 g fat, 3 g pro., 6 g carb., 2.4 g fiber, 118 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN ½ cup dark green vegetables 1) Preheat a convection oven to 350°F. 2) Rinse the fresh broccoli and drain it in a colander. If the broccoli come as crowns or extra-large florets, cut into bite-sized pieces. 3) In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the broccoli and, using a spatula, toss to coat evenly. 4) Place the broccoli in a single layer on two full-size sheet pans (3 lbs. per sheet pan). 5) Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fork-tender and tips are beginning to brown. 6) Transfer the broccoli to 2 ½-in. full-size steamtable pans for service. Toss with lemon juice and then divide the Parmesan evenly by sprinkling over the broccoli. 7) Serve ½ cup portions with a 4-oz. spoodle. Note: This dish is best when prepared just in time for service, as the dish does not retain its quality when reheated. Recipe, Photo, Meal Pattern and Nutrition Analysis: Public Schools of North Carolina, NC K-12 Culinary Institute, childnutrition.ncpublicschools.gov A Presidential Vegetable George H.W. Bush wasn’t the only president to have an opinion about broccoli. A couple centuries before, Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of the vegetable. In fact, he might have been the very first broccoli grower on the continent! Historians believe that Jefferson brought broccoli seeds from Italy to plant on his estate in Monticello in the late 1760s. Recipes published in School Nutrition have not been tested by the magazine or SNA in a school foodservice setting, except for certain “Kitchen Wisdom” selections, which are evaluated by a volunteer pool of operators. Required ingredients, preparation steps and nutrient content make some recipes more appropriate for catering applications or adult meals. Readers are encouraged to test recipes and calculate their own nutrition analyses, meal patterns and HACCP steps. Kelsey Casselbury is a contributing editor for School Nutrition and a former managing editor of the publication. She is based in Odenton, Md.
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