BROCCOLI is one of the most common American vegetables, but is rarely served in France—although Catherine de Médici brought it from Italy to France hundreds of years ago. Delicate and sweet in flavor when freshly picked, broccoli takes on a strong, disagreeable odor and flavor as it ages. Freshly picked broccoli cooks in only 3 to 4 minutes. After a few days, however, the outer skin of the stalk toughens, increasing the cooking time dramatically. For best results, I always peel broccoli stalks before cooking. It is not difficult and allows the stalk and florets to cook in the same amount of time, avoiding the problem of undercooked stalks and overcooked florets.
Although there are many ways to prepare broccoli, I enjoy it best when simply steamed or boiled and served with melted butter and a sprinkle of salt.