When it comes to cooking, there are many different terms which are thrown around to refer to different parts of food.
Some of these terms are easy to understand and have a logical explanation, for example, different parts of meat, but for other foods, this is nowhere near as easy to understand.
One such food which can sometimes be confusing is broccoli, in particular, the terminology referring to a spear of broccoli.
There are plenty of recipes which will ask you to cut the broccoli into spears, or do something similar to this. But how do you cut broccoli into spears? And What is a spear of broccoli anyway?
This article will go over the definition of a spear of broccoli, and the best ways to prepare food using spears of broccoli. So, if you have any questions about this cut of the vegetable, keep on reading!
Why Do We Make Broccoli Spears?
So now you know what exactly a broccoli spear is, you are probably wondering just why this cut of broccoli is popular and why it is in so many different recipes.
The other most common way to cook broccoli is by cutting off the florets at the top and only including a little bit of the stem, instead of the whole trunk like spears of broccoli do.
One of the main reasons spears are used over just florets is because it means that more of the broccoli is being used, and it changes the texture to make it more appropriate for some different tasks than just having as a side.
For example, by cutting spears of broccoli, you can use them in a stir fry where a floret would probably not work. You can also use broccoli spears in a vegetable stock, or include them in a soup with much more ease than just using florets.
There are other reasons as well why broccoli spears are so popular, which we will go over now!
Better To Cook
One of the most important things to note about cooking broccoli spears as that because of their shape being thinner and having a larger surface area than florets, they will tend to cook more quickly, but will also cook more evenly.
Unlike a floret which has quite an unpredictable shape which can make cooking them quite a challenge, cooking a spear of broccoli is much easier since it tends to have a similar thickness throughout its length.
Having a cut of broccoli which cooks faster is certainly desirable in food preparation settings where you do not want to keep customers waiting.
Cooking the broccoli for less time will also ensure that the broccoli will not lose as many nutrients when it is being cooked and will remain as nutritious as possible.
It is also worth noting that the stem of your broccoli will also tend to cook much more slowly than the florets of the broccoli.
This is another reason why broccoli spears are preferred because if you attempt to cook the broccoli in larger wedges, you will quickly notice that the top of the broccoli will quickly start to become overcooked, and by doing so will become mushy and an undesirable flavor and texture, and the stem instead of getting cooked will just stay raw.
If you are cutting the stem into a thinner cut like you are with spears of broccoli, the cooking time will be balanced out to ensure that the whole cut of the broccoli is being cooked evenly.
This will make the result of the cooking much more desirable for chefs as well as consumers.
Compared to all the technical reasons in the last point, this could seem quite petty, but part of the reason why spears of broccoli are so popular is because they are simply prettier and more aesthetically pleasing on a plate.
So, if you are tired of just cutting your broccoli into florets or into chunks with only a small length of the stem, making a spear of broccoli instead is a great way to spice it up, as well as include the incredibly nutritious stem as well.
Because of their length and shape, spears of broccoli are also much either to spread toppings like butter onto.
If you are preparing a fancy meal for guests that you want to impress, being able to serve ‘broccoli spears’ instead of just broccoli will make the disk sound much more adventurous even though it only takes a small amount of effort in preparation to make the change.
Compared to florets especially, it is not hard to make broccoli spear look attractive.
They can be steamed quickly to get a fresh glistening look, and then you can season them with some pepper and make them more luxurious with butter.
Whatever you decide to do when preparing them, there is a good chance that your broccoli spears will look amazing on a plate.
Less Food Waste
This point has been implied slightly by the other ones, but by using the whole stem of the broccoli and not throwing any away, you are practically getting rid of any food waste while preparing this broccoli.
If you did not know, the steam of your broccoli has just as much nutritional value as the rest of the broccoli, and it tastes just about the same, in fact some people prefer its texture.
This is why people occasionally prefer using broccoli spears instead of just the florets since you will not be throwing it away, and instead will get use out of the whole broccoli.
If you also want to make your food go as far as possible, this is a great idea too, you will simply get more edible food out of your broccoli, so you will not have to spend as much.
By cooking your broccoli like this, you can also ease your conscious about the massive amount of food waste which is created in many Western households.
Easier To Wash
Another less common, but still worth noting reason why cutting your broccoli into spears is popular is because they are significantly easier to wash than florets of broccoli are.
This is because spears of broccoli are long and they have quite a flat shape.
All you will have to do is rinse them and you do not have to worry about getting under the florets to try and get water in there.
So while it may take a certain amount of time to learn how to cut the spears, in the end it will make preparing your meal much easier.
So, if you enjoy broccoli and use it in many different meals, hopefully this section has convinced you that this style of broccoli preparation is actually much better than using florets in many different situations.
It makes the experience of both eating and preparing broccoli much more simple and satisfactory.
How To Cut Your Broccoli Spears?
So, now you know why cutting your broccoli into spears is preferable to just cutting it into florets, you likely want to know how to be able to do this.
Like with cutting any type of vegetable, you will want to make sure that the broccoli has been washed thoroughly.
After the broccoli has been washed you will want to put it on a cutting board and use a sharp knife which you trust.
After this you will want to assess the state of the stem. If you think that the bottom of it looks unappealing and woody, cut off the bottom inch of it, do this until you are happy with the texture of the stem.
Then you will want to cut the broccoli in half along its length, from the stem to the crown. This will make the vegetable significantly easier to cut later on. Then you can cut one half at a time.
Set the half you are working with on the board with the flat edge facing down. Then all you have to do is cut length ways from the crown to bottom to make the half into spear shapes.
You will want to try and keep the spears the same thickness at the stem as this will make them easier to cook and will look better when presented.
To keep the pieces equal, especially when getting to the middle of the broccoli, you may want to split the pieces in half again.
How To Cook Broccoli Spears?
You can cook broccoli spears however you cook normal broccoli. Most cooks like boiling them, but you can also try steaming them as this can often be quicker and leads to a better texture.
The length of time they take to boil and steam will vary depending on thickness, but usually only a couple of minutes until tender.
Hopefully this article has taught you what a spear of broccoli is, and why and how you should cut your broccoli this way.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Big Is A Spear Of Broccoli?
Broccoli spears are the long, thin, green stalks of broccoli. Broccoli is an edible flowering plant in the cabbage family that is often eaten raw or cooked. A spear of broccoli is approximately 12 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.
Which Part Of Broccoli Is Healthiest?
Broccoli is an extremely healthy food that is a great source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. It also contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It is very low in calories, so it is a great way to lose weight.
What Is Considered A Spear?
The spear is a pole weapon with a sharpened point at one end and a shaft at the other, usually with a metal head. It is thrown or thrust and usually used as a hunting weapon.
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