I’m taking you on a slight departure from my usual content today, to share a personal ramble about trees and broccoli.

It was prompted by this link that I came across on Twitter, of a story about a project in Melbourne in which individual trees were given email addresses. The intention was to give locals a quick way to report issues related to the threes that might need local government attention, but what happened was the most delightful correspondence, in which locals wrote letters to their favourite trees instead.

It made me smile. In fact it made me grin with delight!

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I love trees. I love to talk to them. I often admire them. Whenever we drive anywhere – unless it’s one of the trips in which I fall quickly asleep and snore all the way – I excitedly point out the most pretty trees to Pete , to which he usually responds with disappointing disinterest or a reminder that he should really watch the road rather than join me in judging the beauty of trees.

I used to want to eat all the prettiest leaves because some of them are just so green and beautiful. But since I didn’t know which ones were poisonous I did stop myself from doing that. It’s odd really that I’m not as drawn to salad, but it just isn’t the same as leaves from trees. Sometimes I pluck a particularly beautiful leaf and lick it but I keep this to a minimum since, you know, that whole poisonous thing and I have enough trouble with people assuming I’m a loon as it is. And only ones from above the dog piss line, obviously.

I thought at first that I would write rather a lot to trees if our local ones had email addresses. But perhaps I’d eschew email and stick to talking to them, since I don’t think any of the ones I know have access to computers. I am confident they can hear me when I talk.

Then I got to thinking… (I know, the insights above are probably a scary enough look into my mind already, but bear with me.)

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Images from shutterstock.com

I have never liked eating calabrese broccoli, because to me it looks halfway between a tree and a shaving brush.

Allotment harvests

I do like sprouting broccoli though, because, less tree like. The purple stuff is the best because it’s purple!
Are you a broccoli fan? And what about trees?!


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For most of my 40 years, I’ve labelled broccoli as The Devil’s Vegetable (along side celery, which still is). I’ve huffed and puffed indignantly about the increasing prevalence of this vegetable over the years – order a dish that comes with “green vegetables” and 99 times out of a 100 you’ll get a plate of green florets!

But a couple of years ago I experienced a broccoli epiphany.

You see, what I’ve always disliked about the most common broccoli, Calabrese, is the floret at the top – the bit that looks like the canopy of a tree. The stem, of which there is precious little, has always been the best bit.

Back in 2010, buying vegetable seeds for our back garden, we chose some that came with an offer for a free packet of purple sprouting broccoli. I wasn’t sure I’d like it but I could see from the picture on the packet that this variety produced long, slim stems with small florets at the end. Worth a shot, I reckoned. And lo, I found myself avidly eating the foodstuff I’d turned my nose up at for so long. Indeed, in the two years since I’ve keenly anticipated our harvest, lamenting when it’s late or not sufficiently high yield!

More recently, I came across another kind of broccoli that I’m loving – it’s a cross between Calabrese broccoli and Gai lan. (I’ve been ordering Gai lan for years in Chinese restaurants, but didn’t know until recently that it’s known as Chinese kale or Chinese broccoli and is also part of the Brassica oleracea species; I love Gai Lan for it’s long crunchy stems).

In the US, the cross is commonly known as baby broccoli though different producers have registered trademark names including Broccolini and Broccoletti.

Here in the UK, it’s marketed as Tenderstem.

To spread word about British grown Tenderstem and to show how versatile and quick it is to use, the Tenderstem press office have invited bloggers to suggest our own recipes for their “Tenderstem in 10” (minutes) challenge.

They sent me some to experiment with.

The first portion I fried in a heavy based pan over high heat, to recreate the charred broccoli we enjoyed recently at Paul Merrett’s pub The Victoria – part of a dish of rabbit loin and liver. 5-6 minutes of cooking allowed the stems to soften a little, but retain a decent crunch, and the florets to char enough to provide that smoky extra flavour. We served these over a steaming parmesan risotto. Delicious!

Inspired by the common pairing of Parma ham wrapped around asparagus, the second portion were wrapped in rashers of smoked streaky bacon and fried in the same way as the first. Even with wrapping time, they took less than 10 minutes!

We had these on their own for a light but tasty evening meal, but you could serve them with Hollandaise or with soft boiled eggs if you like!

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Bacon Wrapped Tenderstem Broccoli (Tenderstem in 10)

Tenderstem broccoli
Streaky bacon (smoked or unsmoked, as you prefer)


  • Wrap each stem in a rasher of bacon, starting at the cut end and spiralling up to the end. Press the bacon firmly where you finish.

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  • Place a heavy based pan on the heat, add a little oil and allow to heat up before adding the broccoli stems.
  • Make sure to place the broccoli stems into pan with the exposed end of the rasher at the bottom, so the bacon doesn’t unravel during cooking.

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  • After a few minutes, turn the stems over to allow the bacon to brown on the other side.

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  • Depending on the thickness of your bacon rashers and broccoli stems, the stems will take 5-10 minutes to cook.
  • Serve plain, with Hollandaise sauce or soft boiled eggs for dipping.

Kavey Eats received a complimentary parcel of Tenderstem broccoli.

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