Broc Your Socks Off

A local farmer shares how to grow the best broccoli in our 417-land climate, and we share four locally created recipes that are sure to have you eating your veggies all season long.

Veggie Delight: Jazz up your broccoli recipe with some scrumptious flavors like Parmesan and garlic.

When it comes to versatility, broccoli is one mean green. In its natural uncooked state, it adds both color and texture with every little floret as it proudly rests on a veggie tray. Add some heat, and it’s delicious steamed with a light sprinkle of salt or roasted and caramelized to take on a rich, nutty flavor all on its own. And we can’t forget how it’s regularly mixed into countless casseroles, stir-fry, quiches, salads, soups and more. It’s used in all types of cuisines that stretch across the globe. 

Broccoli is equally as popular a little closer to home, where several vendors at 417-land farmers markets sell the veggie during both spring and fall harvests.
McKenna Family Farm (3265 State Highway F, Branson, 417-593-9890, operates a pumpkin patch and sells a variety of seasonal vegetables both on the farm and at markets in Ozark and Branson. The farm also puts 200 broccoli plants in the ground each spring. “It’s a great vegetable to start early,” says farmer and family member E.J. McKenna. For Missouri, this means that you can plant your spring crop around the first of April, and if you’re planting for fall you’d plant it around the first of August. If you are planning to grow your own, McKenna says there are a few important things to know. “Broccoli takes cold weather, but it doesn’t take heat very well,” he says. “You want to plant it early enough or late enough that you’re missing those warm days of summer.” On the opposite side of things, don’t worry if temperatures take a dip. “One or two frosts won’t hurt it,” McKenna says. “Some people may say it even makes it sweeter.”  

When starting broccoli seeds in the ground, you should space them roughly two feet apart, and you should leave two to three feet between each row. “When the plants get bigger, they will fill that area,” McKenna says. You can expect to see your first head of the vegetable in nine to 10 weeks. Broccoli also likes a little compost, and it particularly does well with nitrogen. “Once that first head emerges, if you have extra compost, throw some more on there,” McKenna says.

If you’re not up for playing farmer, we suggest you pick some broccoli up from the McKennas or any other vendor, then head into the kitchen and get cooking. After we asked culinary experts at Springfield-based The Food Channel how they like to chomp on this popular green, they developed the following recipes for Broccoli Cauliflower Salad and Seared Broccoli. We also headed to the 417 Test kitchen to do a little research ourselves, and we created recipes for a great Simple Garlic-Roasted Broccoli and a Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup. 

How to Make Crunchy Broccoli Cauliflower Salad 

Developed by The Food Channel | Photo courtesy The Food Channel


1 large head broccoli, trimmed into florets

1 large head cauliflower, trimmed into florets

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, sliced

1 3.8-ounce can black olives, sliced

2 ounces green olives, sliced

3/4 cup prepared ranch dressing, or to taste

Black pepper to taste

To Prepare

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

How to Make Pan-Seared Broccoli with Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette 

Developed by The Food Channel | Photo courtesy The Food Channel


For the Vinaigrette

4–5 anchovies, packed in oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar 

1 lemon, juiced, divided

1 small shallot, peeled and minced

⅓ cup olive oil

A pinch of black pepper

For the Broccoli

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large head of broccoli, trimmed into small florets

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon shallot, minced

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

Remaining lemon juice

To prepare the vinaigrette

In a blender, puree the anchovies, vinegar, half of the lemon juice and shallots on high. Turn blender to medium and gradually pour in the olive oil until emulsified and thick. Season with black pepper.

To prepare the broccoli

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add in the olive oil and broccoli florets, and season with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until florets are caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. Add in shallots and red pepper flakes, and stir until shallots are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter and drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette. Serve warm. 

How to Make Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup

By Savannah Waszczuk | Photo by Vivian Wheeler


½ cup butter

1 white onion, diced

3 carrots, shredded

3 cloves fresh garlic, diced

cup flour

4 cups chicken stock

2 large bunches of fresh broccoli, chopped into small pieces

1½ cups whole milk

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

½ cup fontina cheese, shredded

1 cup heavy whipping cream

To Prepare

Heat butter in a Dutch oven on medium-low heat until melted. Add onion, carrot and garlic, and saute until onion is transparent. Add flour, and make a roux. Cook for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat. Add chicken stock and broccoli, and simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes. Do not let soup come to a rolling boil. Add milk, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer an additional 10 minutes. If you would like a smooth soup, blend with an emulsion blender. Stir in cheeses, and mix until melted. Reduce heat to low, and stir in heavy whipping cream. Salt to taste, then serve. 

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