Summer Broccoli – You Bet!
Hannah and James Huang grow fruit and vegetables on five acres in Kapa’a. The couple grows plants with GMO-free seeds, and fertilizes with chicken manure and compost made at their farm. They don’t use any chemical sprays.
What’s growing: Asparagus, amaranth, arugula, Asian greens, apple bananas, basil, beets, bok choi, broccoli, broccoli raab (Chinese broccoli), carrots, choi sum, coconuts, corn, cucumber, herbs, guava, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, lettuce, mint, mustard greens, papaya, parsley, passion fruit, pomelo, radish, salad mix, scal-lions, strawberries, thyme, tomatoes (heirloom, cherry and grape), zucchini
The name “broccoli” comes from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm. Broccoli is a member of the genus Brassica, which includes cabbages, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables are of the Brassicaceae family and are called cruciferous vegetables.
Season: Typically, even on Kaua’i, broccoli is a cool season crop available from October through May. The Huang’s farm is located in upcountry Kapahi, at about 480 feet elevation. Cooler temperatures enable them to grow broccoli during the summer, but the area has high moisture. Water gets trapped in the crowns where bugs have a party and can destroy the broccoli.
What to look for: Firm, tight heads and crisp stalks. Crowns that are yellowed or have loose or open florets are old; they should be dark green with vibrant, tight buds. If broccoli has been left growing too long or has been stored too long, the plant converts sugar into lignin, a type of fiber that cannot be softened during cooking. Overly mature broccoli will be tough and woody, and have an unpleasantly strong cabbage odor.
Storage: Refrigerate broccoli in loose or perforated plastic bags, preferably in the vegetable bin, for up to three days.
Tip: “I love to do the market,” says Hannah in a Chinese accent. Her smile is warm and inviting. “I love my customers. They always come back and say good comments. If I have time, I select really carefully. In summer, the broccoli can get rotten. If they tell me nicely, I just replace it. I remind everybody: Whenever you get produce from me, and you’re not feel good, just let me know and I’ll trade it out.”
Preparation: The entire broccoli plant can be used. Greens have more nutrients than florets and can be used as you would chard or kale. The stalks are delicate and crisp but can have a tough, woody skin. If this is the case, peel deeply and use as you would florets. Cut stalks and florets into the same size for even cooking. Heating broccoli (or any other cruciferous vegetable) releases strong-smelling sulfur compounds. The longer broccoli cooks, the stronger the smell gets. If boiling, it’s best to cook broccoli rapidly in a small amount of water to minimize these chemical reactions and maximize the retention of nutrients. Steam, sautÃ©, boil or stir-fry broccoli until tender but firm, about 5 minutes.
Broccoli pairs well with olive oil, butter, brown butter, dark sesame and roasted peanut oils, mustard, red pepper flakes, garlic, lemon, ginger, tahini, curry, feta, Parmesan, Cheddar, olives, capers, parsley, marjoram, dill and oregano.
Health benefits: One cup of raw broccoli contains 31 calories, 0 fat, 3 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of soluble fiber. Broccoli is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Along with a rich supply of vitamins and minerals, it contains nitrogen compounds called indoles, which are effective in protecting against cancer. Broccoli also contains special enzymes and good amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin K. Broccoli has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxification benefits, and supports the cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Kaua’i Glory Farms produce can be found at: Island School; Farmers Markets: Koloa (Mondays at noon), Kukui Grove (Mondays at 3 p.m.), Waipa (Tuesdays at 2 p.m.), Kapa’a (Wednesdays at 3 p.m.), Kilauea (Thursdays at 4:30 p.m.), Kaua’i Community College (Saturdays at 10 a.m.), Hanalei (Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.); Restaurants: Pacific Island Bistro, #1 BBQ; Distribution: Esaki’s Produce.
BROCCOLI QUINOA SALAD
Combine broccoli with protein-rich quinoa and vitamin C-laced passion fruit, and this salad packs a healthy punch. Make it into a meal by serving with eggs (fried, poached or scrambled) or toss in baked chicken, tofu or fish. Quinoa is a grain available at health food stores, Foodland and Costco. Makes four servings.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
5 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems, and cooked
3 medium garlic cloves
2/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 big pinches salt
2 tablespoons fresh passion fruit juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
optional toppings: slivered basil, chili oil, sliced avocado, crumbled feta or goat cheese
Rinse quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. Place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon oil, and heat until boiling. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Puree 2 cups of the cooked broccoli, garlic, 1/2 cup mac nuts, Parmesan, salt, and passion fruit juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and cream and pulse until smooth.
Toss the quinoa and remaining broccoli florets with half of the broccoli pesto. Taste and adjust if needed. Turn onto a serving platter and top with the remaining mac nuts and any of the optional toppings.