I planted broccoli once before this year, and the yield-per-square-foot ratio was not favorable. Unlike tomatoes, cucumbers or eggplants which produce multiple fruits per plant, this gave me one small head per plant. I don’t recall the flavor one way or the other, so I imagine it was no better than the supermarket.
Nonetheless, I decided to try again. People reminded me that after I harvest the main head, there are secondary sprouts that are worth eating. And I read somewhere that fresh broccoli is a whole different beast.
Yesterday, I cut off the first two spears. I usually eat only the florets (I know, terrible in the food waste department), but given the low yield, I decided I couldn’t afford to waste an ounce. I also didn’t bother to peel the stalk, even though some say they are tough and fibrous. Given how fresh and tender they were, I chanced that the stalks didn’t need a peeling. I tasted them raw and their sweet crunch had a slightly bitter aftertaste. I knew this would melt away when cooked. The stalks, as predicted, were perfectly tender.
Back in college, one of my staples was broccoli steamed with soy sauce, butter and lemon over brown rice (the other was eggs scrambled with tom yum paste). Not wanting to fuss too much with the flavor of the broccoli, I opted for this old favorite. This time, I used quinoa instead of brown rice – it worked perfectly, and more importantly, cooked quicker, making this a perfect Monday night dinner! It was so good, in fact, that I made the same thing for lunch the next day using kale instead of broccoli.
In favor of future broccoli plantings: The broccoli was deliciously sweet and earthy. I planted it in April and harvested in Mid-July – freeing up the soil for fall plantings of beans and lettuce. On the downside, the yield was low, though I have yet to see what sort of shoots I get. For about $2 in seedlings, I got about $2 worth of broccoli. Overall, this year’s experiment was wholly successful, though I’m still on the fence as to whether I’ll plant again next year.