Eating from root to fruit and practising complete consumption means incorporating the whole ingredient into a dish or finding ways to use up those bits that we usually throw away, such as peelings, stalks and roots. Every now and again, those odds and ends become an ingredient in their own right, tastier even than the conventional prized part of the vegetable.
Broccoli stalks, for example. The stem has a wonderful texture both raw and cooked – I often nibble them raw, dipping them into hummus or salsa while preparing the rest of the head. The remaining stalks I’ll chop into rounds and steam with the florets, or shave raw into a broccoli stalk remoulade or bake in a gratin. Slicing them into thin discs like this cuts the long fibres in the skin into shorter pieces, which makes them easy to chew and prevents the need to waste and/or peel the stalk.
Broccoli stem gratin
The broccoli stalk is the hero of this dish. In fact, the florets aren’t used at all, meaning you can save them for another meal. I’ve made a video of this recipe, which you can view here.
1 broccoli stalk (about 200g)
300g celeriac or potato, washed but unpeeled
50g gherkins, diced
300ml soured cream (or plant-based yoghurt)
1 egg, beaten (or 60g aquafaba)
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tbsp roughly chopped dill (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper
80g mature cheddar, grated (or 2 tbsp nutritional yeast)
Chop the broccoli stem and celeriac or potato into fine matchsticks (use a mandoline, if you have one). Mix these in a bowl with the gherkins, soured cream (or plant-based alternative), egg (or aquafaba), mustard, garlic and, if using, lemon zest and dill. Season generously, then tip into a medium-sized ovenproof dish and scatter over the grated cheese (or nutritional yeast). Bake in a 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5 oven for 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and cooked through and the top is golden brown and bubbling, then serve hot.