What We Eat: Broccoli Stalks

broccoli stems & radish greens
Sautéed broccoli stalks & radish greens

Yes, you read that correctly, I am doing an entire post on broccoli stalks. They are one of my new favorite foods and I bet you will love them too if you just give them a chance!

When you buy broccoli, do you just eat the crowns and then throw the thick stalks into the trash or compost? I used to do that because I thought they were too woody and tough to bother with. Over the past year or so I’ve become increasingly interested in using ALL of the parts of food we buy, both plant and animal. I was so disturbed by my own wasteful actions that I figured out ways to eat a lot of things we had previously tossed, including broccoli stalks. Oddly enough, I have come to prefer the stalks to the crowns. They have a mild flavor and a nice watery crunch. The trick is that you have to peel the tough outer layer off of the stalk (and yes, trash it or compost it…). The inside of the stalk is then ready to eat raw like a carrot, chop up into a salad, or sauté with radish tops and garlic as shown in the photo above. Those are just a few ideas. The stalks are incredibly versatile and would be delicious on a crudité tray, in soup, in stir-fry…the list goes on. I admit that the first time I decided we would eat the stalks I opted to cook them because I don’t like the flavor of raw broccoli and figured the stalks would taste similar. Not so! Removing the outer layer also removes that odd bitterness and the inside is, I dare say, almost sweet! Below is a recipe for a delicious green side dish featuring two commonly thrown-away items, broccoli stalks & radish greens.

Garlicky Broccoli Stalks & Radish Greens

2-3 broccoli stalks
1 bunch well-washed & spun (or blotted dry) radish greens
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 Tbsp olive oil
A pinch or two of sea salt

Peel the broccoli stalks using a paring knife (really, a peeler is pointless here), quarter lengthwise, and slice thinly. Heat olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add garlic and broccoli stalks. Sauté for a minute or two, until you smell that delicious garlic aroma and the stalks look a little less raw. Add the radish greens and stir to distribute the oil and get all of the greens in contact with the heat. You may need to add a tiny bit more oil at this point if it seems that you don’t have enough in the pan to cover all of the greens. The oil helps them cook and also helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the veggies, so don’t be shy. Toss in a pinch or two of sea salt. Continue to stir the greens (it’s really more of a folding motion, actually) until they are all wilted, which takes about 5 minutes or so. Enjoy!


  • ok, i will try this…. i have been buying brocolli wokly (sp?) though, so… you are probably going to get on me about that!

  • We are really bad about discarding stems of all sorts of veggies (it’s a travesty that I only eat the tips of asparagus). I will try this! Are radish greens something other than the leafy tops of radishes?

  • Lori – at least you are eating broccoli! But yeah, opting for fresh (local, even, I mean, you DO live in California) broccoli would be better if you can swing it.

    Kate – Radish greens are indeed the leaves that are attached to radishes. I leave mine bunched and chop them off all at once, then un-bunch for washing. Yum! And aparagus is hard, I feel you on that one. I hold the ends of each spear, bend, and let it snap. Then I discard whatever has snapped off the bottom end of the spear, which is sometimes a lot. But if you can get really really fresh (meaning local) asparagus pretty much the entire spear is edible (we had some in DC a few times and it was amazing!).

  • I cook the stalks along with the rest of the broccoli, till suitably tender, no longer crunchy, but still with some firmness. I prefer the stalks,… more satisfying as food, more nutritive feeling.

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