A lot of people might think broccoli stalks are tough, not very tasty, and perhaps a bit dirty. However, with the right prep, these overlooked ingredients can transform into anything from an elegant final touch on a salad to a foundational roasted vegetable on a dinner plate. Better yet, broccoli sold in full stalk form is cheaper than bags of pre-prepped florets, and it lasts longer in the fridge, too.

For those looking to incorporate more vegetables into their meals and spend less money doing it—as many students likely are—making use of "scraps" like broccoli stalks is a great place to start! From pickled to roasted, here are four different ways to use those tough broccoli stalks to make the most out of your groceries. 

Ploy Sripungwiwat

First things first. Before turning your broccoli stalks into something tasty, there’s one simple step you have to do: peel them. That woody, tough rap broccoli gets? It’s all in the outermost part of your stalks. The inside is tender and actually kind of sweet; you just need to release it to make the most of it's texture and flavor.

I like to use a knife but a vegetable peeler works just as well. Just whittle down the outermost green skin until you’re left with its greenish-white interior. After peeling, cut your stalks into any shape you like; I personally like to do rounds or julienne them into sticks.

Now, on to ways to prepare it.

Ryan Wakefield

Method #1: Shaved Broccoli Stalks

If you’re looking to add some visual or textural upgrade to a meal, shaved broccoli stalks are a simple and flavorful way to go. Simply take your peeled stalk and run a vegetable peeler along the length of it, shaving off thin ribbons. These can be twirled into an elegant garnish or tossed on top of a meal for some extra crunch and freshness. These ribbons could easily be pickled as well.

Method #2: Pickled Broccoli Stalks

I thought the tender but crunchy texture of broccoli would pickle well considering it’s not that far off from a cucumber, and it absolutely does!

What’s great about broccoli is that it pickles really quickly, even without heating your brine. Just toss your cut stalks into a bowl with whatever seasonings you prefer—a pinch of salt, sugar, pepper, and some diced ginger or garlic is my favorite combination—and enough vinegar to cover. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and they’ll be good to go as a crunchy, sour pickled vegetable for snacking or garnishing any kind of meal. Or, add them to a favorite combination of pickled veggies, like carrots and cucumbers.

Ryan Wakefield

Method #3: Roasted Broccoli Stalks

Like carrots, potatoes, or parsnips, broccoli stalks are a great hearty vegetable for roasting alongside a protein. If cut into larger pieces and roasted, they can pick up a lot of char while still staying crunchy. To prepare, slice a peeled stalk into 3/4 inch pieces, lightly coat in oil and any preferred seasoning that won’t burn, then roast them under the broiler on a preheated sheet pan for a few minutes.

They should be deep brown to blackened on the outside but still feel firm in the center. Serve as an appetizer or as a side dish to accompany your meal.

Method #4: Raw Broccoli Stalks

That’s right, a peeled broccoli stalk is pretty damn good just on its own. Peel them like you would for any of the other preparations, and you’ve got something akin to a green carrot. You can also slice and season them any way you’d like—some chili crisp would be fantastic—and you’d still have a sweet, crunchy vegetable to snack on. 

Ploy Sripungwiwat

Hopefully these preparations have helped give broccoli stalks a better reputation as a viable vegetable to include in your cooking. Even if these methods, or broccoli in general, aren’t your style, they’re proof that there’s often hidden value in the parts of your groceries that you might not typically eat. Overall, these preparations and other produce-repurposing ideas can serve as inspiration for finding ways to use the parts of foods  that one might normally throw away.