This is the time of year when I visit farmers markets first and then go to the grocery store. When I see a vegetable on the stand -- or even better, in the field -- then I know it's fresh.
There are certain vegetables I usually like to have on hand regardless of what my cooking plans for the week are -- something I can just pull out of the fridge or freezer and make a meal with. One of those versatile vegetables is broccoli.
I've been invited to friends' gardens to get my fill of the vegetable -- since I so enjoy cooking with it -- but this year I've said "thanks, but no thanks." I just need enough to prepare a few meals.
Broccoli can be eaten raw and served with a dip, cooked alone or featured in a casserole. Cook fresh broccoli in a bit of water over medium heat, with butter or olive oil and a little seasoning. Any vegetable that can be eaten raw requires only a few minutes to cook. If there is left-over broccoli, consider freezing it for later or making one of my go-to casseroles that perfectly highlight the vegetable.
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1 box frozen chopped broccoli
1/2 can mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon grated sharp cheese
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup crushed Ritz Crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook broccoli 5 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain well. Combine other ingredients and fold into broccoli. Place in buttered casserole dish. Add topping. Bake 30 minutes.
Source: Ervena Faulkner's personal file
BROCCOLI WITH OLIVE BUTTER SAUCE
Makes: 12-14 servings
4 (10-ounce package) frozen broccoli
2/3 cup butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 teaspoons lemon juice
12 large stuffed olives, sliced
Cook broccoli according to directions on package. Drain and arrange on heated serving dish. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper. To make the sauce, heat butter and garlic about 15 minutes over low heat. Add lemon juice and sliced olives. Pour over broccoli.
Source: Eula H. Lightsey of Fairfax in "First Lady Cookbook: Grandma's Favorites," 1978
CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE
2 packages frozen broccoli, cooked tender
2 cups sliced chicken, more if desired
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange broccoli in casserole dish. Place chicken on top of broccoli. Combine soup, mayonnaise and lemon juice and pour over chicken. Sprinkle cheese on top. Combine breadcrumbs and melted butter and put on top. Bake for 45 minutes.
Source: Ervena Faulkner's personal files
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition.