Broccoli in school spotlight for November |

Broccoli in school spotlight for November

Amanda Thibodeau
Submitted to The Union

It’s November! With the cooler temperatures come some of the best fall crops of the season.

This month, students at 12 schools are sampling local broccoli from Mountain Bounty Farm as part of the Harvest of the Month programming through Sierra Harvest.

Did you know that broccoli is a superfood? Botanically a member of the brassica family, broccoli has more Vitamin C than an orange and enhances our immune system.

With just about the same amount of calcium as whole milk, it strengthens bones and teeth and is a rich source of antioxidants and Vitamins A, E and folate (good for your eyes, skin and metabolism).

Additionally, broccoli contains the flavonoid kaempferol, which is an anti-inflammatory, helps fight against cancer and heart disease and has been shown to be a way to prevent the onset of adult diabetes.

With all these compelling health facts, (and great flavor), it’s time to have some broccoli for dinner tonight.

Here are some fun facts about broccoli (and presidents):

— In 1990, President George Bush made a public statement as to his dislike of broccoli, which enraged farmers in California, who in protest shipped 10 tons of broccoli to Washington, D.C. It was later donated to local homeless shelters.

— In 2001, his son had a similar blunder. While visiting the Mexican president, whose family owns a large broccoli farm, he gave reporters a thumbs-down when asked about broccoli and said he would prefer cauliflower.

— Thomas Jefferson, an avid gardener and seed collector in addition to being the third U.S. president, grew broccoli at Monticello. Records indicate he planted it as early as May of 1767.

— Broccoli production increased 700 percent between 1971 and 1991.

— The average American eats 4 pounds a year. However, we are the third largest producer worldwide — the number one producer is China, providing 8 million tons a year.

Here’s a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten:

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

4 to 5 pounds broccoli

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

Good olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks.

Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart.

You should have about 8 cups of florets.

Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.

Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil.

Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil.

Serve hot.

Amanda Thibodeau is a local farmer and works with Harvest of the Month.

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