Stalk Exchange: 7 Better Ways to Eat Your Broccoli

Maybe your kids would rather make their beds than eat vegetables, but this bright bunch, related to cauliflower and brussels sprouts, deserves a reputation reboot. It's loaded with vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber, and one cup of broccoli florets has all the calcium you need in a day. The best part? It doesn't take much effort to turn this versatile veg into something truly delicious.

In Season: This cool-season crop is at its peak from October through April, but you can find it in your supermarket year-round.

What to Look For: Select broccoli with firm stalks and closed, tightly packed florets that are deep green (or even tinted purple).

How to Store: Keep in the refrigerator in a ventilated plastic bag for up to four days.

Related: Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family

Broccoli Pasta with Parmesan Croutons

Use everyday ingredients in brand-new ways to spice up your dinner routine. With a little ingenuity, bread, Parmesan, and broccoli transform ordinary pasta into a lively vegetarian main course.

1/2 baguette, cubed (3 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce), plus more for serving
Salt and pepper
3/4 pound medium pasta shells
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together bread, 1 tablespoon oil, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and toasted, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions; add broccoli and cook 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain.

3. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil and garlic to pot and cook until garlic is fragrant and lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pasta mixture; toss to combine, adding enough pasta water to create a light sauce that coats pasta. To serve, sprinkle with croutons, lemon zest, and additional Parmesan if desired.

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

Bright-green broccoli florets and cheddar cheese are a combination that kids and adults can agree on at any meal.

All-purpose flour, for rolling
1 homemade or store-bought single-crust pie dough
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups medium diced yellow onion (from 1 large onion)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 pound broccoli florets, steamed until crisp-tender
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour a rolling pin and work surface and roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Place in a 9-inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edge. Place a sheet of parchment paper over dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edge is dry and light golden, about 20 minutes. Remove parchment and weights.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and cream. Add onion, broccoli florets, and cheese and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Whisk to combine, pour into crust, and bake until center of quiche is just set, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Deep-Dish Broccoli and Cheddar Pizza

No deep-dish pizza pan? No problem! Press store-bought pizza dough into a pie plate to create this easy, deluxe dinner.

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for pie plate
12 ounces pizza dough, thawed if frozen
1 1/4 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ounce thinly sliced soppressata
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
Coarse salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar, divided
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a 9-inch glass pie plate with olive oil. Stretch dough to an 8-inch round, then press into bottom and up sides of plate. If dough springs back, let rest 5 minutes before continuing.

2. Combine broccoli, soppressata, and red-pepper flakes.

3. Top dough with 1/4 cup grated cheddar, broccoli mixture, then 1/4 cup grated cheddar and Parmesan.

4. Drizzle pizza with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through and crust is crisp and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Related: 15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook

Buttery Broccoli with Parsley

Parsley perks up broccoli for an easy and impressive side dish.

2 heads broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds total), florets halved, stalks trimmed, peeled, and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. Place a steamer basket in a saucepan filled with 1 inch water. Bring to a boil. Add broccoli; cover, and steam until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove basket, pour off water, and return broccoli to pan. Toss with butter, parsley, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Toasts

This smooth soup derives its body and rich flavor from pureed broccoli stems and florets -- no cream required.

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 bunches broccoli (about 3 1/4 pounds), stems and florets chopped separately into 1/2-inch pieces
7 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup skim milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated or crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
8 thin slices crusty baguette

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic, and broccoli stems; cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add stock and salt; cover, raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Add broccoli florets; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, until florets are just tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Remove soup from heat, and let cool, about 10 minutes. Fill a blender no more than halfway to puree soup in batches until smooth. Return soup to pot; stir in milk and cayenne. Cook over medium heat until heated through (do not boil).

3. Heat broiler. Divide cheese among bread slices; toast under broiler until melted and golden brown, 45 to 60 seconds. Divide soup among bowls. Top each bowl with a cheese toast, and serve.

Lighter Three-Cheese Mac

Modest amounts of Parmesan and extra-sharp cheddar combine with light Neufchatel and one-percent milk to make creamy, flavorful macaroni and cheese with less fat. Broccoli florets add color and fiber to this crowd-pleaser.

Salt and pepper
1/2 pound short tubular pasta, such as cavatappi
2 cups broccoli, cut into florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 ounces Neufchatel cheese
3 cups 1% milk
1 1/4 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes less than package instructions. Add broccoli and cook 3 minutes more. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and ground mustard. Saute until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add Neufchatel, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. Gradually whisk in milk, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in cheddar and Parmesan, then add pasta and broccoli. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish and bake until bubbling in center, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with panko, and serve.

Chicken-and-Broccoli Stir-Fry

Oyster sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, and sesame oil add complex flavor to this quick and satisfying supper.

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch strips
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced 1
Cooked white rice, for serving

1. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, cornstarch, and sesame oil.

2. In a wok or large skillet, heat vegetable oil over high. Add chicken and cook until browned, 10 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, scallions, and broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, until broccoli is bright green, 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Stir in soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, 1 minute. Serve warm with rice.

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