Bacon-Wrapped Tenderstem Broccoli

Bacon Broccoli-0357

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!

Bacon Broccoli-0359


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.

Bacon Broccoli-0346 Bacon Broccoli-0348

  • 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.

Bacon Broccoli-0349

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

Bacon Broccoli-0356

  • 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.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
17 Comments to "Bacon-Wrapped Tenderstem Broccoli"

  1. Purely food

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who avoids broccoli! Like you I am converted to the tenderstem variety. I like the sound of your recipe.


    It was purple sprouting, which is also long stemmed, which converted me…

  2. kaveyeats

    It is. Previously, the two of them shared the epithet, but now celery has it. Aniseed/ fennel are also Wrong.

  3. KSalty

    The devil’s vegetable? Surely that honour goes to sprouts? I do prefer Tenderstem or Purple Sprouting when it’s in season to the bushy Calabrese, but the latter is pretty delicious roasted.


    I don’t really mind sprouts. I’d never choose them, would much rather have some delicious savoy cabbage. But I don’t hate them. Calabrese just needs to accept it should be a tree and not a vegetable.

  4. Kathryn

    Funny, the stem is my absolute least favourite part whereas I’m very happy to eat the fluffy bit at the top!

  5. Lynda

    B is for bleurgh = brocolli. It is trying so hard to pretend that it has nothing to with cauliflower which we all know is in league with the devil.

  6. Rebecca

    I LOVE broccoli and would eat it as my preferred green veg 99% of the time. Tenderstem is definitely the best so agree on that AND celery IS the devil’s vegetable – no matter WHAT you do with it!!!

  7. Cooking Classes in London

    I had to laugh. I have no qualms whatsoever with eating broccoli of any kind, be it the stem or the “tree” top. I am just one of those folks who happen to fancy broccoli. Still this bacon-wrapped tenderstem broccoli is making my gob water.


    My theory is that there’s very little than can’t be improved with either bacon, cheese or chocolate, often more than one of the above! 😉

  8. Mike the Gardener

    My goodness, why did I not think of this! I have to readily admit I am a bacon addict, although lower grade bacon is very fatty so i try to steer clear of those … but to wrap my home grown broccoli is a technique of genius 🙂


    We mostly buy Denhay bacon, which is what we used here. Good, thick and very tasty with no horrid water coming out.


Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *