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4 reasons we love Broccoli

Asparagus is our seasonal spring fling and corn our summer crush, but brilliant broccoli is our bestie all year round!

We've teamed up with Countdown to inspire you on how to have fun with broccoli, with exciting ways to prepare and enjoy this healthy and oh-so-reliable vegetable every single day!

1. Forget seasonal

Here today and gone tomorrow is the mantra for so many things in life, so it's comforting to know that versatile and delicious broccoli is in season 365 days of the year! This remarkable vegetable looks a bit like a bunch of beautiful green flowers, and the best news is that every part of it is edible from the thick stalk to its florets. Broccoli grows around the country in Pukekohe, Gisborne, Levin and North Canterbury where it is carefully selected and harvested by hand, washed and arrives in store ready for us to enjoy every day of the week.

Watch Gordon McPhail, Farm Production Manager at Leaderbrand Produce, who has been growing Broccoli for well over 20 years.

2. Green Goodness

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables we know and as part of brassica family is a close cousin with kale, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Packed full of healthy nutrients it is an excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A, E and potassium. It will also supply you with the green goodness of antioxidants, vitamin C, fibre and folate. So reach for an extra portion of broccoli and kale soup with lemon creme fraiche, as it will also provide you with a natural source of sulforaphane which researchers believe should be part of any anti-carcinogenic diet - boom!

3. Easy peasy

Broccoli is easy to prepare! It is wonderful chopped or grated into salads or quickly blanched, as with this broccoli and almond salad or this colourful roast pumpkin, orange and broccoli salad. But when it comes to cooking, less is definitely more! Three minutes is the absolute maximum time you should steam, microwave or stir-fry broccoli to preserve the colour, crunch and mild mustard flavour and to make sure you get all the added health benefits. Over-cooking broccoli will result in a mushy texture and sulphurous odour and will probably turn the kids and big-kids off this great vegetable.

Once you get your broccoli home, it will keep fresh for up to a week in the fridge. Be sure to store it in a sealed bag so that it doesn't absorb any of the surrounding smells or flavours in your refrigerator.

Creamy [salmon and broccoli penne pasta pots](http://www.foodtolove.co.nz/recipes/gluten-free-creamy-salmon-broccoli-and-penne-pasta-pots-38277|target="_blank") are a tasty dinner option
Creamy salmon and broccoli penne pasta pots are a tasty dinner option

4. So versatile

Broccoli works brilliantly with many other ingredients, so try some of our favourite recipes to make the most of your new bestie!

Pasta and Potatoes

You'll love this combo of mushroom and broccoli stuffed potatoes as a satisfying lunch or light dinner meal. Pasta is another great match and this broccoli, pea and tuna shells will fast become a go-to family meal. For more easy and delicious dishes try our gluten-free creamy salmon and broccoli penne pasta or this quick chicken with creamy lemon sauce recipe.

Salads & Sides

Crunchy fresh broccoli is the star of this cauliflower, broccoli & chicken salad or try our delicious and satisfying garlic chicken and broccoli salad. As a side dish, char-grilled broccoli with lemon works well with roasted meat to add zing to weekday dinners.

Bake It

Flans, quiche and pizza are all fun ways to enjoy broccoli so why not try our easy crustless broccoli quiche or this gluten-free pizza recipe? Or for a pie that ticks all the right flavour boxes, bake these cheesy bacon and broccoli pot pies - yum!

[Bacon, broccoli and cheese pie](http://www.foodtolove.co.nz/recipes/bacon-broccoli-and-cheese-pie-22622|target="_blank") is the ultimate comfort meal
Bacon, broccoli and cheese pie is the ultimate comfort meal
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