This post takes you through how to cook Tenderstem broccoli and which ingredients are best to pair it with, including vegetarian recipes for mains and side dishes. I was recently approached to develop some recipes with Tenderstem - a classically-bred cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. Not unlike asparagus in its cooking and eating properties, you can eat the whole vegetable and it is ready in a few minutes.
You can eat it raw, but I tried it roasting and sautéing for the following recipes and I think these two methods are your best bet if you want to maximise flavour. I'm sure that the quick, high heat of a barbecue would cause some delicious charring, but I haven't tried that yet. All these cooking methods lightly caramelise the natural sugars in the vegetable, which is pretty much essential for the building of complex flavours.
Tenderstem has a lovely sweet, grassy flavour, but as you can imagine it is fairly mild. Olive oil and butter are both great cooking fats, each with their own flavour profiles and merits, but I'm sure that coconut fat, or rapeseed oil would be great too.
Classic aromatics like chilli, garlic, and lemon juice or zest will add loads and loads of flavour, and all manner of fresh herbs will enhance the vegetable-y taste.
I tried it with basil - surely the bestest, most delicious herb in the world - and that was great. Tear the herbs over, or stir them through. Or if you've got a food processor, a quickly thrown together pesto will turn your side dish into a magnificent green feast.
Seasoning is essential to really bring out the delicate flavours, so be sure to add a little flaky sea salt and some fresh, spicy black pepper at the end.
Cheese is great - I strongly recommend that you seek out unpasteurised cheese if at all possible (have I mentioned that already?!), but I've also tried it with a creamy, young, smoked Cheddar (pasteurised) that was absolutely mouth-watering too.
Lincolnshire Poacher (above) is one of my new favourite cheeses - a very welcome addition to my new life in England. It's basically an unpasteurised cheddar, by another name, and what a lovely hard cheese it is. So many layers of flavour, so, so complex. Deep, rich umami that goes with all manner of savoury vegetarian delights, it was a great match for Tenderstem.
My tenderstem recipes – Savoury custards with tenderstem, Roasted tenderstem and Sautéed tenderstem with lemon – are all pretty quick and straight forward to prepare, with the hands-on time only a matter of minutes. Good if you have something more exciting to be getting up to...
Do you have any suggestions about how to cook with this vegetable? How would you best coax out its flavour? And make marvellous, enviable vegetarian meals? I'd love to hear your ideas...
This post was sponsored by Tenderstem®, but the recipes are my own creations.