In Season Broccoli

Broccoli isn't just for crudites.

Although first cultivated in the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago, broccoli didn’t gain traction in the U.S. until the 1920s. Chefs across the region are coming up with more flavorful ways to feature this veggie-plate staple, which is also an excellent source of vitamins K and C. 

Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen

The paprika-crusted tuna at Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District is a great example of executive chef Pablo Munoz’s approach: unique, accessible dishes that can easily pair with wine. The tuna is rubbed with cumin, paprika, garlic and salt, seared over high heat and served with a turnip-fennel cream sauce and stir-fried broccoli and bok choy finished with rice wine vinegar. The dish is topped with a perfectly runny medium-boiled egg. “I personally love broccoli. I remember eating it as a kid constantly; I was the weird kid who actually liked broccoli,” Munoz says. “I had an influence of Asian cuisine when I was thinking of this dish, and the bok choy and broccoli just seemed like something that was really going to tie it all together.” At home, Munoz suggests roasting broccoli with oil, salt and pepper until the outside is caramelized yet still tender. He also likes to pickle broccoli in a brine of distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar, jalapeños, coriander, oregano, sugar and salt. “I like how it’s spicy,” he says. “The jalapeño is really the secret ingredient of the pickle.”

Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen, 1526 Walnut St., Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.842.2660, tanninwinebar.com

Twisted Ranch

Vegetarians are used to meat substitutes – but what about broccoli in place of bacon? At Twisted Ranch, the ranch dressing-themed restaurant in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis, broccoli is the main topping on the veggie-pesto flatbread. “We use the broccoli to give it more body and more crunch, so broccoli basically serves as the meat,” says executive chef John Harper. The flatbread starts with a pesto sauce base and is topped with broccoli, sundried tomatoes, spinach, Feta cheese and pesto-ranch. The restaurant, which went viral last year thanks to a Buzzfeed video, recently moved to bigger digs in Soulard, which allows Harper and his team to handle a higher volume of customers clamoring for the 31 flavors of housemade ranch. “Mostly you pair broccoli with Cheddar; we added the Feta to give it a little twist, and it goes really well with the pesto,” he says. “That’s what Twisted Ranch is – outside of the box.”

Twisted Ranch, 1731 S. Seventh St., Soulard, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.833.3450, twistedranch.com

Nourish Café & Market

You can have broccoli for breakfast at Nourish Café & Market in Columbia, Missouri. The chicken-sausage gravy bowl begins with a base of roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes, which is topped with two local eggs and housemade gluten-free chicken-sausage gravy. “[The broccoli] is a good way to get more greens and veggies in, especially when you’re starting your day,” says owner Kalle Lemone. “Having a healthy, nutrient-rich meal like that [for breakfast] is pretty awesome.” Lemone says the goal at Nourish is to make healthy food taste indulgent, while giving customers meals packed with vitamins and nutrients; for instance, the Nourish Benedict combines sautéed greens, roasted red peppers and poached eggs served over quinoa balls with roasted red pepper Hollandaise. “[The breakfast bowl] is good for people who are new to healthy eating; they think they would never order broccoli in the morning,” she says. “But it has the comfort-food chicken-sausage gravy, too.”

Nourish Cafe & Market, 1201 E. Broadway, Suite B, Columbia, Missouri, nourishcafemarket.com

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