Lists of healthy foods abound on the Internet these days. One food that’s found on all of them is broccoli. My introduction to broccoli didn’t make it onto my favorite foods list but over the years it has made it there.

I grew up in a small mid-western town during and just after WWII. Vegetables came from my grandfather’s garden, little farm stands at the end of farm driveways or cans. The corner grocer usually had some iceberg lettuce and root vegetables. I had never eaten broccoli until I was sixteen and visited an aunt who lived in the city. In our family we were served family style. Bowls of food on the table with each person serving themselves. At Aunt Myrtle’s house, she served plates of food that she prepared in the kitchen. In front of my plate she placed small bowl of sickly green mush. I was told that it was broccoli. I managed to get it down but it was a long time before I ate broccoli again.

Eventually I discovered how to cook it and it became a favorite vegetable although I’ve never really liked the flower part, perhaps because of my introduction. I like the stems. It works out well when I’m cooking for Max and me, he gets the flower part and I get the stems. I was delighted then to find a recipe in the New York Times using broccoli stems for a spicy broccoli and red pepper slaw. I tweaked it considerably and will share the resulting recipe. It’s good!

Broccoli and Red Pepper Slaw

3 cups shredded broccoli stems (4 to 5 large stems)
1 red bell pepper, cut in thin 2-inch julienne
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons wine or fruit vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced or puréed (optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons olive oil

Place the shredded broccoli, julienned pepper, cilantro and mint in a bowl.
Whisk the remaining ingredients together, pour over the broccoli mixture and toss.
This is good the next day too.

An interesting bit of trivia from Wikipedia. “The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to “the flowering top of a cabbage”.