Beautiful broccoli

Broccoli, boccocini and prosciutto tart.
Broccoli, boccocini and prosciutto tart.

Justin North shares some tips and recipe for cooking with broccoli.

 What
To me broccoli is the king of vegetables. It is so good for you, easy and versatile to cook with, utilising both the heads and the stems. It's generally reasonably priced, too. Broccoli is available year-round and has a beautifully distinctive hearty and robust flavour. Also keep a look out for broccolini, purple broccoli and Chinese broccoli. It is essential to keeping a healthy, balanced lifestyle - the only challenges is getting the kids to eat it.

Choose
Look for lively green leaves, tight, compact closed florets, crisp stalks and firm chunky bases with deep green colouring. Avoid heads that are discoloured, beginning to flower, or look loose or tired.

Store
I recommend eating broccoli soon after purchasing, as it will begin to deteriorate quickly. If you need to store broccoli, it requires air to breathe so avoid plastic or sealed bags, and put it into the vegetable crisper.

Try
I love raw broccoli stems finely sliced and tossed through salads to add a lovely textural contrast. Equally good are steamed florets served with burnt butter, garlic and almonds. Nuggets of fresh broccoli stir-fried with ginger, sesame oil and green chilli with a drizzle of oyster sauce make a luscious accompaniment to poached chicken or roast pork belly. Another favourite is a thick velvety broccoli soup served with blue cheese.

Recipe

BROCCOLI, BOCCONCINI AND PROSCIUTTO TART

This recipe works best in a shallow tart mould, approximately 22cm in diameter and 2cm high. It's a good idea to choose a tart ring with a removable base. Yields one large tart or serves four as a light meal.

1 tbsp of plain flour
1 large sheet of puff pastry that will cover your tart mould with a little overlap
4 eggs
¼ cup cream
1 cup broccoli florets
4 slices prosciutto torn into small pieces
1 cup pumpkin diced finely
1/2 cup sliced baby bocconcini
pinch of smoked paprika
good pinch salt flakes
pinch cracked black pepper

Serves 4 as a light meal 

Preheat oven to 190°C. Dust tart mould with flour to prevent the pastry from sticking. Line the tart mould with the pastry, pushing into the edges with a little overlap.

Combine the eggs and cream in a bowl and roughly mix with a fork, then add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour the contents into the pastry. Put into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden and the egg mix is just set. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes, then slice and serve with dressed salad leaves.

 

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