Chopped broccoli stems take the place of rice in this creamy spring risotto, making it a healthier and lighter version than the traditional kind. When shopping for broccoli, choose broccoli stalks with thick, long stems—the thicker they are, the less peeling you'll have to do.
Slideshow:More Broccoli Recipes
Stems of 4 to 6 broccoli heads, depending on their thickness (about 580 grams or 20 ounces)
Florets from 1 large broccoli head, cut into bite-sized pieces
A couple handfuls of other vegetables, such as chopped asparagus, peas, edamame, fiddleheads, etc. (optional)
A large handful of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, etc.
1 lemon, zest and juice
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 1/2 tablespoons ghee or grapeseed oil, divided
1 shallot, chopped
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan to taste, finely grated
Baby greens or microgreens for garnish (optional)
How to Make It
Trim the tough, tree-like ends of each broccoli stem and peel off the thick outer skin of each stem. You can skip the places where the stems branch into thinner stalks—the skin there is usually tender enough.
Chop the peeled stems into medium-sized cubes and place them in the food processor. Pulse into rice-sized pieces—you should end up with about 3 cups of broccoli stem "rice." You can also do this with a good knife, if you prefer.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Blanch the broccoli florets for 3 minutes, then immediately transfer them to an ice-water bath with a slotted spoon to stop the cooking.
If using other vegetables, continue to cook or blanch them in the same water according to their type. I like to blanch asparagus, fava and edamame for a couple of minutes and peas for just 30 seconds.
Blanch the leafy greens in the same water for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to an ice-water bath, reserving the cooking liquid.
Once the vegetables are cool, drain them thoroughly and squeeze excess water out of the leafy greens. Add about half of the broccoli florets (and a few pieces of the other vegetables, if using) to a blender, along with the leafy greens, 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly ground black pepper and cheese. Add about 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid and start blending, adding more of the liquid if needed to achieve a thin, creamy consistency. Make sure not to make it too runny.
Heat the remaining ghee or oil in a large sauté pan or saucepan, add the shallot and sauté for 3-4 minutes at medium heat. Add the broccoli stems and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the blended sauce, stirring well to combine and adding more of the cooking liquid if necessary. Add blanched broccoli and other vegetables (if using) to the pan and warm everything through. Remove from the heat, add more cheese, salt and pepper to taste and lemon juice, if desired. Serve garnished with lemon zest, another sprinkle of cheese, baby leaves or microgreens.
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