I wanted to make a series on how to cook greens. Incorporating more dark, leafy greens is a great way to ensure you are getting enough fiber, iron and vitamin A. Greens are vitamin powerhouses! They also add bulk to your meals to keep you fuller for longer. I tend to get into a rut with greens though. For example I’ll be all about arugula for 3 weeks and then switch to nothing but kale for a month. It’s good to switch up your greens so that you get a variety of vitamins and minerals. That hardest part of changing your green routine is how to prepare them!
This week I wanted to focus on Chinese broccoli aka Gai Lan. Chinese broccoli is a perfect side to stir-fries, I usually sub it for rice. It’s a little bit firmer and more bitter than regular broccoli with long, pretty stalks. Instead of dense broccoli crowns, Chinese broccoli is leafy much like bok choy. With Chinese broccoli you want to focus on making sure the stems are cooked through without overcooking the delicate leafs and also making sure to use enough spice to compliment the bitterness.
So we want to cook the stems and steam the leaves therefor add your broccoli in stem first to a heated pan. With the stems are particularly large you may want to split them onto halves or even thirds. Cut off any ends that look past their prime. Here I just added rice wine to the pan.
Allow Chinese broccoli to cook and soften. You’ll want to add garlic, tamari, salt and pepper flakes about 2/3 the way through cooking or after around 10 minutes. Once the garlic is cooked give the Chinese broccoli a good stir to heat leaves. You don’t want the leafy part to get mushy so don’t cook much more after stirring. The garlic and pepper flakes work well with the bitter aftertaste of the Chinese broccoli. It’s not that bitter, but it’s different than your typical broccoli. Usually I serve with the garlic spooned over and a squeeze of lemon juice. Lemon is not traditional but it’s pretty dang good.
I served the Chinese broccoli with some pan fried turmeric and soy glazed tofu, stir fried snow peas and a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Ditching the rice makes for a good low carb dinner. The extra greens add bulk to what would otherwise be a very light meal. Chinese broccoli has a satisfying texture; it’s soft but has a crisp bite to it. It’s hard to explain but it’s well appreciated when mixed into stir fries. It’s also good with scrambled tofu.
I had this for dinner the other night and then used what little was left over the next day mixed into miso soup for lunch. It was great leftover! Chinese broccoli is a very versatile green. I love green Asian veggies because there is such a huge variety if you look beyond napa cabbage or bok choy. On a different note, happy mother’s day to all the moms out there! I tried my hand at baking but the fatal mixture of high altitude and veganism makes for tricky dessert baking. I ended up on almond rosewater tarts but I felt like they were missing… something. It was a textural issue. Ah well, I enjoyed baking for a change and will be trying to incorporate it more. I have a kitchen aid that feels unloved.
Hope every one had a fantastic day!