Spring in SoCal is made extra special thanks to the magical world of broccoli. A couple weeks ago on a whim I grabbed a big bag of Weiser's sprouting kind. With no thick central stalk around which the plant is arranged, its spindly skinny stems, purple florettes, and funny leaves shoot out every which way. What a goofy vegetable.
Being unsure about the outcome, I trimmed the stalks down a lot and mixed it with cauliflower to roast and make one of my veg-pasta standards. It added some nice contrast to what's otherwise quite the exploration of monochromatic foods, what with the pasta, cauliflower, pine nuts, shallots, Parm and whatnot, but this mix probably just muted the pure sprouted broccoli experience.
So last week at the market I saw McGrath has its own kind. It's not as exotic in the color department; it's basically a dark, iron-promising green. The leaves and stems are shorter and less gnarly than Weiser's, so I just rinsed and roasted with olive oil, garlic and shallots. If only making vegetables were ALWAYS this convenient without involving food science and creepy vacuum-packed bags from commercial supermarkets. When munched raw the broccoli had a little spicy tang, which was mostly lost in the cooking.
Upshot is they're both great. (I'm never much one for competition anyway.) And it would be nice if all these guys could hang around longer. But then they'd be less special. Tough call. Anyway, if you come across some, buy a big bag (it's pricey at about $5/pound, but it's all usable so worth the price), then let the stalks, trees, and leaves be untamed. Let sprouting broccoli's freak flag fly.