Broccoli is a delicious and important vegetable that is available almost all year round.

Broccoli's name is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. Because of its different components, this vegetable provides a complex mix of tastes and textures, ranging from soft and flowery (the florets) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Its colour can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green, depending upon the variety.

Nutrients are best preserved if the vegetable is cooked for no longer than 5 minutes, and the colour of broccoli will intensify to a bright green as it is cooked. Broccoli leaves are edible, and area tasty addition to stir frys or may be steamed quickly along with the broccoli. It is high in vitamin C and soluble fiber, and is also an important source of folate.

Steaming broccoli is the best way to preserve it's vitamin and mineral content, although it is also delicious when  roasted with olive oil and garlic, or  chopped into soups or stews.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

* Sprinkle lemon juice and sesame seeds over lightly steamed broccoli.
* Toss steamed broccoli florets through pasta, with garlic, olive oil and basil.
* Roast broccoli in a deep dish, with 1/2 cup vege stock and a good slosh of olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. Roast on a low heat and cover if florets get browned before thicker stems are soft.