Growing and cooking with broccoli
Hunting Lodge executive chef Des Harris and head gardener Dave Mercer share tips and a recipe from the kitchen
DAVE: Broccoli varieties are best grown in the cooler months and need rich, moist, composted soil to thrive. Judge the watering required based on the weather. Broccoli will take 50 days from seedlings and 150 days from seed to fully mature. It can benefit from a feed of liquid fertiliser part way through growing. Space 30-40cm apart to create nice foliage, meaning fewer weeds. Pick when the flowerheads are firm and tight.
DES: Broccoli is edible both raw and cooked but don’t overcook it. It is not as delicious when it has turned dull green and its vitamin C will be diminished. Barbecuing or grilling is my favourite way to cook it, both at home and in the restaurant. Split the broccoli into quarters and give them a quick blanch in boiling water. Drain and season with sea salt, toss with olive oil and cook till tender – it will be slightly charred when done. The caramelisation and burnt bits taste so good. A good squeeze of lemon juice when finishing will take it to another level. Don’t waste the stalk. Peel back the outer skin to reveal the heart of the stem (chefs sometimes call this ‘marrow’). Grate the stem into coleslaw and salads. You can also slice it and add this to a stir-fry or just steam and eat it as is.
Grilled broccoli with preserved lemon, pickled garlic and tarragon dressing
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- Blanch the florets from 1 head of broccoli for 1 minute in boiling water, drain well.
- Preheat the grill and season the florets with sea salt, toss with olive oil. Cook until tender and nicely caramelised.
- Dress the broccoli florets with the following dressing and serve.
1 Tbsp pickled garlic, chopped
½ Tsp preserved lemon, diced
½ Tbsp French tarragon, chopped
¼ tsp chopped green chilli
1 tsp muscatel vinegar (or any good quality vinegar)
1 Tbsp of olive oil
- Combine all the ingredients together and season with sea salt to taste.