What’s in season: Generally in season from the winter months well into spring, broccoli gets its name from the Italian word for “cabbage sprout,” and it is related to Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other members of the cabbage family. Where standard broccoli is known for its thick, tree-like stems ending in tightly closed blue-green buds, variations include slender-stemmed Chinese broccoli (gai lan); broccolini, or “baby broccoli,” a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale; as well as broccoli rabe, or rapini, which is related to both the cabbage and turnip families.
What to cook: If the stem is thick and woody, peel the outer skin before using. Add shredded raw stems or chopped florets to slaws or salads. Sauté broccoli, quickly cooking the vegetable to bring out its emerald green hue alongside simple flavorings such as chile flakes, garlic or butter, or incorporate in a simple stir-fry. Or cook broccoli longer, bringing out its sweet notes as part of a simple soup or stew. Roast or grill larger florets until softened and charred for an easy side dish.
What’s on the horizon: Meyer lemons, known for their softer acidity and floral notes, are normally in season through the late winter months and into spring, but are showing up at select stands.
RAMEN HOOD’S FRIED BROCCOLI
Total time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time | Serves 2 to 4
Note: Adapted from a recipe by Ramen Hood in Los Angeles.
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes, more to taste
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and chile flakes and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. This makes about 3/4 cup sauce, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks, refrigerated.
Oil for frying
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets (save the stems for another use)
About 1/4 cup prepared sauce, more if desired
Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish
1. Fill a large pot with enough oil to come up about 4 inches and heat the oil until it reaches 375 degrees. Fry the broccoli in small batches until the pieces are a light brown color, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain the pieces well and repeat until all of the broccoli is fried.
2. Place the broccoli in a bowl and sprinkle over the sauce, tossing the broccoli to coat. Drain the pieces and place on a platter, garnishing with the green onion. Serve immediately.
Each of 4 servings: Calories, 87; protein, 3 grams; carbohydrates, 9 grams; fiber, 3 grams; fat, 5 grams; saturated fat, 0; cholesterol, 0; sugar, 4 grams; sodium, 304 mg