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Broccoli stem lovers: What are your cutting and trimming tricks (knife, mandolin, processor, grater) to produce your favorite uses for this beloved stem?

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Seems to me that the main reason that the stem is under-utilized is that it's tricky to cut.

Consider the tough cuticled exterior, and the numerous leaf bases to trim (or not), lots of folks just throw it away rather than do the work to get to the treasure of the stem.

So, what cutting techniques do you use?

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  1. I just use a good sharp vegetable peeler to peel whatever tough outer part there is...then slice and use in salads and dip in hummus. It reminds me a little of fresh ginger...it it's a little old, it will be harder to peel that outside tough stuff off.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Val

      Exactly-- peel, and then just use a knife to cut into thin slices or matchsticks. (If I want slices, I cut in half and lay flat side down to cut)

    2. My mom would love you! As poor immigrants, when I was a child, my mom made me use every little bit of all of the broccoli, but I could never appreciate the underwhelming flavor of the stems.

      They peel very easily by making a small incision at the base of the peel and then just peel it up with the small utility knife (like a banana peel) toward the florets until it just tears off (or you can just cut it off wherever you feel like it's reasonably thin). Then slice it thinly on the diagonal so it stir fries quickly (and we always use a little water in our stir fries for the harder veggies such as carrots, broccoli, kohl rabi, etc.).

      1. I take a knife and just chop off the outer part (the lazy woman's method)...I don't think I waste much and it takes about 5 seconds, resulting in a rectangle of a stem. I always end up eating it raw after that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bluemoon4515

          the lazy man uses the lazy woman's method. i then usually make rectangular planks for stir frying

        2. I love broccoli stems. Wish sometimes there were more stem!

          I too use a knife and just get rid of the tough outer layer. Then cut it into matchsticks, dropped into a bowl with a little salt and slotted into the fridge for an afternoon of sitting.

          it's delicious and so refreshing as a side dish or snack!

          1. I use a knife to start and then peel the "bark" off the stems, then generally slice the stem.

            1. Knife rather than peeler. Thinly slice ands into whatever else I'm doing with the head.

              1. Sometimes the outside needs peeling, sometimes it doesn't. If I am going to snack on them raw I usually go for the matchstick shape. If I am going to sautee, roast or stir fry them, I am less concerned with the shape. Today I had them raw and steamed the florets.

                1. I love broccoli stems in broccoli anchovy sauce with pasta - fry garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes in olive oil before adding the broccoli stems (I lazily peel mine with a knife) and cooking until tender. Cook the florets with the pasta for the last 3 or so minutes before tumbling into the sauce with a few spoonfuls of cooking water and parmesan. So delish!

                  1. Cut them off, use your knife to strip them of the outside skin (start with a small cut at the top and pull the skin off). I cut into batonnets and either stirfry them or marinate them in soy sauce, hot pepper paste or oil, sesame oil, black or wine vinegar, some garlic, ginger, green onions, let sit for an hour or so, and serve as a salad.

                    1. OP here. Any ideas for doing broccoli "slaw", and again avoiding the cuticle exterior, which we are all discarding?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: FoodFuser

                        Pare the outside and use the coarse grating disc of a food processor for the long batons of peeled stem?

                      2. Depending on the size of the stems I use the following techniques after the crowns have been separated:

                        First, if the stems are large, I simply take a chefs knife or cleaver and make a four sided rectangular/box cut as others have mentioned. From there, I will make 1/4 inch bias cuts for stir frys.....if making a salad or slaws, I make long length cuts thinner @ 1/8 inch. with my cleaver, which I find makes a more precise cut than any chefs knife I have.

                        When the stems are smaller/thinner, after separating the crowns or not, I peel the exterior using a paring knife and not a peeler. First I make a straight cut at the bottom of the stem, then I pierce the bottom slightly with the paring knife blade near the handle, and pull back the exterior skin. Small stem broccoli is usually reserved for steaming or roasting, as it makes a better looking presentation on the plate.

                        btw....the latter method is the same way I de-string celery stalks.....and I too, prefer the broccoli stem over the flowering crown.