Produce report August 13: Fruit and vege buys of the week
What would we do in the winter without broccoli, filling the gap as it does when other vegetables are in short supply? Because we can buy it year-round, broccoli doesn’t have the show-pony allure of something like asparagus, yet its mild flavour, versatility, nutritious punch and the way it roasts so nicely for grain bowls and salads, means it is pretty well always on the shopping list.
Broccoli is a brassica and its mustardy taste hints at the phytochemicals that can help protect against many types of cancer. A good source of fibre and protein, it contains iron, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium as well as the vitamins A, C, E, K (good for blood clotting) and an assortment of B vitamins including folic acid.
Eating it steamed will help reduce the amount of cholesterol in the body. Cooking it will also soften the fibres and make it easier to digest (it can sometimes cause bloating) but, nevertheless, both head and stalk may be eaten raw and will still be very nutritious. The stems are better peeled if they are a bit tough on the outside. Sliced into lengths they work well, raw or blanched, as crudite dippers or can be whirred into pesto. They are also useful in stir-fries, soups and stocks.
New World fresh expert Phil Lemon says broccoli is in good supply at your local store. “Broccoli is grown from seed in New Zealand, he adds, “and from seed to store, we are able to trace our broccoli back to the grower — giving customers peace of mind in their provenance.”
In New Zealand we commonly eat calabrese sprouting broccoli. Occasionally you may also find the fancy romanesco variety. It is that pale green, pointy-headed type, pictured below.
Then there’s Chinese broccoli, called gai-lan (below), which has long green stems that are always used. Try to buy it when the white flowers are in bud rather than in full bloom.
Broccolini, (below) a true stir-fry star, is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli with a milder, sweeter flavour than its bigger, more common cousin.
Broccoli loves cheese, chilli and spices. Roast it and toss it with grated parmesan to serve: First cut the heads into florets, trim the stalks into batons and toss in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook at 200C for about 15 minutes. Turn halfway through. Crispy bits are good.
Try broccoli combined with coconut in these gluten-free fritters which make a great, healthy snack. Add a salad and some grilled halloumi cheese to make them a meal.
Leafy greens, carrots, brussels sprouts and beetroot are good buying. Look out for kalettes — the frilly, sweet mini cabbages (pictured below) which are a cross between kale and brussels sprouts. Fruit-wise, citrus still rules with navel oranges the standout buy.
Unfortunately, kumara is still looking pricey.“They are expensive because they are in short supply,” says New World fresh expert Brigit Corson. “The weird weather has either drowned them or made all the green plant tops grow like crazy, so when growers dug up them up at harvest time there wasn’t much underneath. It’s likely red kumara will be in short supply all year, though things are looking better for the orange beauregard variety with some good deals at New World. Kumara is not a vegetable we are able to import thanks to strict MPI protocols which protect our New Zealand product, so we rely on the Kumara Capital of New Zealand, Dargaville, to keep us supplied.”