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Recipe: How to Use Leftover Broccoli Stems

These funky Miso-Pickled Broccoli Stems are perfect in sandwiches, alongside noodles, fried rice, veggie stews

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By Bon Appetit US | February 21, 2024 | Recipes

It’s never been easier (or tastier) to cook vegan, even if you’re not doing it full-time. In Part-Time Plant-Based, associate cooking editor Antara Sinha brings you bright ideas from veggie-forward cookbooks.

Like carrot tops and potato peels, broccoli stems fall into that category of food scraps we know we could eat, but stealthily slide into the compost bin instead. When grocery shopping, I’ll find myself only buying bags of frozen broccoli florets, or seeking out broccoli heads with especially stubby stems, just to avoid contending with them.

That’s not the case everywhere: “In Japan the broccoli stems are valued, so broccoli is sold with much longer stem portions,” Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook told me. “When buying vegetables in Berkeley, CA, for the photoshoot for this book I had to buy quite a bit more broccoli than we needed, just to get enough stems.”

Hachisu’s Miso-Pickled Broccoli Stems were a revelation in my broccoli conundrum. All you need are two ingredients (yes, miso and broccoli) and a stint in the fridge. They make the stalks a fun treat in their own right—a crunchy savory standalone snack, or pickle-y topping to veggie stews or rice. It’s true to the type of Japanese cooking that Hachisu loves most.

Vegetable-forward cooking makes so much sense since the vegetables and aromatics are what drive a menu—everything else is secondary,” she says. “The vegetables are the pop no matter what kind of dish you are creating. Without the vegetables, you just can’t start.”

When it comes to picking the right miso for the job, “I would be careful about overusing ‘white’ miso since it lacks maturity or depth of flavor—and outside of Japan tends to be sour,” says Hachisu. Instead, she recommends more flavorful misos such as barley, or brown rice miso. (You can learn more about the difference between various types of miso here.) This Organic 2-Year Barley Miso made by the Yamaki Company is one of Hachisu’s favorites for its robust, assertive, especially full-bodied savoriness. But whatever miso is lingering at the back of your fridge can get the job done.

Serve Miso-Pickled Broccoli Stems in sandwiches, alongside noodles, fried rice, veggie stews, or nibbled on as a funky, umami snack with a sprinkle of spicy shichimi togarashi or nutty furikake. They’re delicious enough that I’ll be keeping my eyes out for extra long broccoli stems on my next grocery run.

How to make Miso-Pickled Broccoli Stems

Pare off any dried, fibrous nubs or tough portions of skin from the outside of 2 large broccoli stems. Drop the stems into a large resealable plastic or silicone bag and smear 6 Tbsp. miso around all surfaces of the stems to cover. Roll the bag tightly, squeezing out the air, and seal. Store in the refrigerator for 1–2 days to pickle.

When ready to use, remove the stems from the miso, scraping off the miso with your fingers. (You can reuse this miso—save it for the next time you make Quick Miso Soup, or Miso Polenta With Spring Vegetables and Tofu.)

To serve, cut the stems into spears or thick coins, and sprinkle with shichimi togarashi, if desired.

Adapted with permission from Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, published by Phaidon.

This story originally appeared on Bon Appetit US