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Broccoli Tops the Favorite Vegetable List, Hands Down : Nutrition: Despite what the President might think, there are several delicious ways to prepare broccoli so that it tempts even the most stubborn of taste buds.

March 29, 1990|ROSE DOSTI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

I hate to argue with the President of the United States, but I beg to differ.

I love broccoli.

It's one of the few vegetables that made it into my adult diet, after carrots, spinach, zucchini, eggplant got squished in the race to the top of my favorite vegetable list.

Broccoli won.

It was a hands down win.

And why not? Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables. I compared the nutrients found in broccoli with those found in Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and spinach.

Spinach came close nutritionally. But not by much and not in all nutrients. Spinach tops broccoli in Vitamin A. Broccoli beat spinach in Vitamin C content and scored higher in iron content, of which spinach is supposed to be king.

The relative nutritional values of various popular vegetables are compared.

Looks-wise, broccoli wins by a mile.

I once watched a child eat broccoli. Her tiny fingers pinched off the small stems around the flower end, one by one like petals of a daisy, popping the flower portion into her tiny mouth.

Spinach? It's spinach's viscous texture that I think children hate.

And so do I.

Then you have the Cancer Society saying that consumers should eat more vegetables from the cruciferous family--of which broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower are a few--because they tend to reduce the risk of cancer.

"Broccoli every day." That was my mother's slogan, and we got it every day, like oatmeal and soft-boiled eggs. But in those days broccoli came packed in mud--or so it seemed--and you got grains of dirt with every bit no matter how many rinses or how much hosing they got. No wonder President George Bush hates broccoli. If I were the President of the United States, I probably would too, remembering only the bad old days.

But I recall the pretty broccoli you find in markets today; all bright green, healthy and in perfect sized stems you can easily fit in a microwave oven.

In fact, steaming them in a microwave oven will preserve nutrients over steaming them in water. But that's up to you.

My favorite way of serving broccoli is steamed (microwaved) until the stems are Kelly green in color. They get a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper. No salt. You won't need it.

My next favorite broccoli dish is broccoli souffle.

Then there is broccoli frittata.

And then there is broccoli timbales when you have a fancy dinner party and you want to do a side dish ahead.

Chicken divan in which broccoli is the vegetable hidden under the chicken slices was introduced to me when I was a newlywed. The dish ran a full decade before I transfered over to Quenelles de Brochette.

LEMON BROCCOLI

2 to 2 1/2 pounds broccoli

2 cloves garlic, halved

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Freshly cracked pepper

Trim stem ends and split thick broccoli stems to heads. Microwave according to microwave instructions or steam over boiling water until barely tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Saute garlic in oil until garlic begins to brown. Discard and add broccoli to seasoned oil. Cook until tender, turning pieces frequently. Sprinkle with lemon juice and season to taste with pepper. Makes 8 servings.

DISNEY WORLD CHICKEN DIVAN

6 boneless chicken breasts or 1-pound chicken tenderloins

1/4 cup butter or margarine

12 spears broccoli, cooked

Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons sour cream

3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (6 tablespoons)

Paprika

Saute chicken in butter until tender and golden brown on both sides. Place broccoli spears in casserole or baking pan, allowing 2 spears per serving. Arrange chicken breasts over broccoli.

Blend Cream Sauce with sour cream. Ladle evenly over chicken, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and season to taste with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Cream Sauce

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup flour

4 cups milk

Salt

White pepper

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk, stirring until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

BROCCOLI SOUFFLE

2 pounds broccoli, chopped

3 eggs

2 cups milk

1/4 cup prepared mustard

4 cups soft bread crumbs

Cheese Sauce

Place broccoli in saucepan with 1-inch water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Drain.

Lightly beat eggs, milk and mustard in large bowl. Stir in broccoli and bread crumbs. Spoon into well-greased 12x7-inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cut in squares and serve with Cheese Sauce. Makes 6 servings.

Cheese Sauce

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour and salt. Gradually add milk. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until sauce boils and thickens. Add cheese and stir until cheese melts.

BROCCOLI TIMBALES

1 cup cooked, chopped broccoli, well drained

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon instant minced onion

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 cup very warm milk

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

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