How to Cook Tenderstem Broccoli

June 20, 2023
by HelloFresh How to cook

    Broccoli, Bellaverde broccoli, broccoli spears, Tenderstem… if you’re into your brassicas, there’s a lot of choice out there. Although it’s easy to think they’re all the same, just with a different look, this is far from true. Did you know that Tenderstem is actually a cross between broccoli and another entirely different vegetable? Read on to find out exactly what Tenderstem broccoli is, the best way to cook it, how long to cook it for, what it pairs well with, and some recipe inspiration to whet your appetite.


    What is Tenderstem broccoli?

    Tenderstem broccoli is sometimes confused with Bellaverde broccoli – in reality, the two are very different things. Bellaverde broccoli is a younger broccoli. After the main broccoli head is harvested, new shoots are encouraged to grow – and it’s these shoots that produce Bellaverde broccoli. Tenderstem, on the other hand, is actually a hybrid of two different plants. Developed in Japan, it’s a plant that was bred by crossing broccoli and Chinese kale. The result? A style of broccoli that has far more flavour than its large-headed cousin. 

    As well as having a flavour that’s different to regular broccoli, the texture is different too: it has far more crunch than the florets that come from a standard broccoli head. It’s not just packed full of flavour either – it’s full of nutrients, too. HelloFresh Recipe Development Manager, Mimi Morley, tells us Tenderstem is high in vitamins A and C for healthy skin, as well as potassium for good blood pressure and manganese for bone health. Tenderstem also contains plenty of fibre and protein, and it’s low in calories too. What’s more, it’s an incredibly versatile vegetable which pairs with a range of flavours and can be cooked using all sorts of different methods. If you’re looking for ways to cook Tenderstem broccoli, keep reading.


    How to cook Tenderstem broccoli

    Whether you steam, boil or fry, the best way to cook long-stem broccoli is all down to your own personal preference and the recipe you’re creating. Here are three cooking methods to get you started…


    1. How to steam Tenderstem broccoli

    Steaming is a great way of cooking broccoli stems: it keeps the nutrients locked in, and allows you to cook the stems to the consistency you prefer.
    1. Bring a saucepan of water to boil.
    2. While your water is coming to a boil, rinse your Tenderstem broccoli well. Place in a colander, or steaming pan, on top of the pan of boiling water, and cover with a lid.
    3. Steam for 3-4 minutes, until bright green, then remove from the pan. If you prefer a softer texture, simply steam for a few minutes longer.

    2. How to fry Tenderstem broccoli

    Sauteed Tenderstem broccoli has an incredible flavour, and this cooking method allows you to keep its crunchy texture. 

    1. Wash your Tenderstem broccoli. You can either keep the stems whole or slice them into smaller pieces if you wish. 
    2. Place a wok over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of oil, and when hot, add your broccoli. Stir well to coat the stems in the oil. 
    3. Stir fry for five minutes. If you wish, you can add soy sauce, chillies or any other seasoning of your choice. 
    4. When green and tender, remove from the wok and serve.

    3. How to boil Tenderstem broccoli

    Cooking long-stem broccoli in a pan of boiling water is one of the simplest ways to cook it – just be sure not to overcook or it’ll end up mushy. 

    1. Wash the Tenderstem broccoli and add to a pan of boiling water. 
    2. Boil for 3-4 minutes. After this time, prod the broccoli with the pointed end of a knife to check the texture. Cook for a minute or two longer if you prefer it more tender. 
    3. Drain with a colander and add the seasoning of your choice before serving.


    Tenderstem broccoli in smoothies

    Apart from being an excellent accompaniment to your lunches and dinners, Tenderstem broccoli is a wonderful, nutrient-packed addition to a smoothie. Mimi Morley recommends adding 4 or 5 florets of Tenderstem broccoli (either cooked or raw), along with a cored apple, 250ml coconut water and one teaspoon of grated ginger to a blender, blending for one minute until smooth. She also suggests that adding half a teaspoon of matcha powder can give you a slow energy and caffeine release throughout the day.

    Tenderstem broccoli cooking time

    How long to cook Tenderstem broccoli depends on your cooking method. Boiling or steaming your broccoli spears will take just 3-4 minutes, while you should allow five minutes for frying. It’s always best to underestimate your cooking time, and then check the texture at regular intervals to find your preference.


    All cooking appliances vary. These are guidelines only. Ensure the food is piping hot before serving. Do not reheat.


    What to serve with Tenderstem broccoli

    Long-stem broccoli is a versatile ingredient that works well as both a simple side dish and a main meal. Serve buttered Tenderstem as one of your vegetable sides with a roast dinner, or make it the focal point of a warm salad. You’ll find plenty of Tenderstem broccoli recipes for Asian-inspired dishes like stir-fries, but it also works well in recipes from closer to home. Try pairing with smoked salmon in a homemade quiche, or using leftover cooked Tenderstem spears in a bubble and squeak. Add to pizzas or pasta dishes, or use it alongside blue cheese to create an elegant topping for puff pastry tarts. The possibilities are endless!


    Tenderstem broccoli recipes

    Whether you’re a meat eater or vegetarian, there’s a whole host of stem broccoli recipes you’re sure to love:

    Creamy Truffle and Mushroom Rigatoni with Tenderstem Broccoli and Walnuts 

    Sirloin Steak With Boulangere Potatoes and Tenderstem 

    Bulgogi Mushroom and Tenderstem Broccoli with Zesty Rice and Crushed Peanuts 

    Honey Miso Roasted Tenderstem Broccoli with Toasted Sesame Seeds

    Veggie Arroz Rapido with Mange Tout and Tenderstem 

    Turkey Stir Fry with Tenderstem and Mangetout 

    Have these recipes whetted your appetite? For more recipes for Tenderstem broccoli, visit the HelloFresh recipes page.


    All food products vary. The instructions printed on the food packaging always supersedes those printed in this article and must always be followed.


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