Fall’s Nutritional Stars: Broccoli, Cabbage And Cauliflower
The cooler weather of fall promotes the best growth of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower – crops that are not only “Simply Delicious” but also “Simply Nutritious.” Cabbage is grown on about 1,200 acres in Pennsylvania, ranking the state 12th in the nation. Roughly 180 acres of broccoli and 100 acres of cauliflower, mostly in small acreages, are grown across the state. The harvest of these three cabbage family crops is well underway and will continue until winter sets in.
Home-grown Pennsylvania broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are all nutritional heavyweights. With high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and dietary fiber plus cancer-fighting indole compounds, broccoli is truly a nutritional superstar. Cabbage and cauliflower also are high in vitamin C and fiber as well as the cancerfighting indole compounds.
These members of the cabbage family have been linked to decreases in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, peptic ulcers and various kinds of cancer as well as to increases in mental sharpness. The cabbage family is also known as the Cruciferae family because their flowers are shaped like a cross. According to the Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition of the University of California at Berkeley, cruciferous vegetables contain indoles – nitrogen compounds – that seem to protect against cancers of the stomach and large intestine. They also are generally high in fiber and antioxidants like vitamin C and carotenoids. Antioxidants neutralize the action of free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules – which promote cancer. Cruciferous vegetables also contain compounds that stimulate the release of anti-cancer enzymes.
Some people object to the odor produced by cooking cruciferous vegetables. The odor is caused by the release of sulfur compounds as these vegetables cook. While boiling cruciferous vegetables in large amounts of water in an open pot will minimize the characteristic strong cabbage taste, it maximizes the loss of nutrients. Steaming, microwaving or quick cooking in small amounts of water minimizes nutrient loss in the cooking process. Of course, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can all be enjoyed raw by themselves or in salads.
Dietary experts have long recommended including cruciferous vegetables in the diet regularly, at least several times a week. Under the dietary recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture broccoli is listed as one of the dark green vegetables. The guidelines recommend that adult Americans should eat about 1.5 to 2 cups of dark green vegetables per week. Cabbage and cauliflower are included in the list of “other” vegetables. The guidelines recommend consumption of 3.5 to 5 cups of these “other” vegetables each week.
The following recipes from the 2011 Pennsylvania “Simply Delicious” Vegetable Recipe Contest are tasty ways to include cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower in your menus.
Broccoli with Gnocchi
2 cups broccoli crowns
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper to taste
1 pound frozen gnocchi grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
Peel and halve broccoli stems. Parboil the crowns 5 to 6 minutes, drain and set aside. Lightly brown garlic and onions in olive oil adding salt and pepper. Meanwhile boil gnocchi according to the bag directions. Strain in a colander, reserving some of the water. Place cooked gnocchi in the pot with the browned onions and garlic. Add prepared broccoli to the pasta and add reserved water, if needed. Stir and top with Pecorino- Romano cheese. Serve warm and enjoy!
Submitted by Anthony Greco, Saylorsburg.
Savory Stuffed Cabbage
1 large head cabbage, cut
into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
1 cup long grain rice
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup beef broth
2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease a 2-quart casserole
dish and set aside. In a medium sauté pan, cook ground
turkey, garlic cloves, onion
and green pepper. Cook until meat is no longer pink
and vegetables are tendercrisp. Drain meat. To meat
mixture, add cabbage,
tomatoes, rice and beef
broth. Stir well. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.Bake at 350° for 45
minutes. Remove from
oven and sprinkle with
shredded cheese. Return
casserole to oven and continue baking for an additional
Submitted by Deb Lyon,
2 tablespoons minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head cauliflower,
separated into florets
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
salt and black pepper to
1 tablespoon chopped
Preheat the oven to 450
degrees. Grease a large
casserole dish. Place the
olive oil and garlic in a large
resealable bag. Add cauliflower, and shake to mix.
Pour into the prepared
casserole dish. Bake for 25
minutes, stirring halfway
through. Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley, and
broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Submitted by Carol
Quick buying tips
The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program offers these tips when buying fresh broccoli:
Choose tightly-packed heads.
Stalks should be green with dark green or purplish green, not yellow, buds.
Refrigerate in an open plastic bag.
The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research
Program offers these tips when buying fresh cabbage:
Select firm, compact heads.
Choose heads that are free of yellow, wilted or splitting leaves.
Avoid cutting cabbage until just before use.
The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program offers these tips when buying fresh cauliflower:
Select tight heads with a white or cream appearance.
Avoid heads that are loose, spotted or bruised.
Refrigerate in an open plastic bag.