- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The next time you’re preparing broccoli, hold off on throwing away the stems.

Those lovely stalks, which you normally might feel somewhat guilty discarding in favor of the lovelier crowns, now have an exciting destination: the pickle jar.

People love this unusual dish, and it’s a great backdoor access to increased vegetable consumption in the guise of a delightful snack or condiment. Be sure to choose broccoli with firm, crisp, intact stems for the best results.

This dish is literally a keeper — the stems will stay crisp and tasty for weeks, if stored in a tightly lidded jar in the refrigerator. They will lose their color, but all the other attributes will remain.

Broccoli stem pickles

Stems from a large bunch broccoli (at least 4 good, healthy stalks)

1 tablespoon light-colored honey

½ cup hot water, plus water for boiling

1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. In the meantime, remove and discard the tough bottom ends (about the last 1/4 inch) of the stalks, then peel the stalks. (A sturdy vegetable peeler is an ideal tool for this.)

Cut the stalks lengthwise about 1/8 inch thick, and then across into matchsticks. You should have about 4 cups.

When the water boils, add the stems and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes (until tender-crisp) and then drain into a colander in the sink. Refresh under cold running water for a minute or so, then drain again.

Place the honey in a medium-sized bowl and add the hot water. Stir until the honey dissolves, then add the vinegar and mix well. Add the broccoli stems to the mixture, making sure they are completely submerged so they can pickle.

Let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then transfer them to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

The pickles will be ready in about four hours, but a longer sit will make them even better. They will stay good for two weeks at the very least, and usually for a lot longer. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Mollie Katzen is the author of “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press). To contact her, go to www.molliekatzen.com.

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