Broccoli is a delicious and nutritious vegetable. As part of a healthy and varied diet it adds colour and flavour to any meal.

It is a very versatile ingredient and can be boiled, steamed, stir fried, baked, and can even be eaten raw in salads or with a healthy dip.

Here are 8 great Broccoli facts and cooking tips that will help you make the most of this wonderful green vegetable.

1. Broccoli comes into season in May and June. This is the time of year that it is best to buy it fresh from local sources. Vegetables start to lose their nutrients immediately after harvesting so the shorter the distance they have to travel the better they are. Take the opportunity to indulge in the freshest selection available.

2. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family and gives the same health benefits as that leafy vegetable. It was first farmed for human consumption in Cyprus about 2500 years ago. It is full of nutrients, vitamins, and fibre. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

3. Eating broccoli has many health benefits and can reduce your chances of getting heart disease and cancer. A single 90 gram serving of uncooked broccoli has only 31 calories and provides your entire recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin C. It also provides a source of iron (4% RDA) , calcium (4% RDA), and vitamin A (11% RDA).

4. Broccoli can give off a pungent smell while it is cooking. If you are boiling or steaming it try adding a piece of bread to the pot to reduce this odor.

5. When shopping for broccoli make sure the stalks are crisp and snap clean when broken. In the freshest bunches the florets will be tightly closed and uniformly green with no yellow.

6.Properly cooked broccoli is served al dente. This means that it is cooked until it has just lost its crispness but still has a bit of crunch. It should not be soft or mushy and should definitely still be green and plump.

7. Add a little bit of salt and vinegar to the water when you are steaming or boiling broccoli. This will help keep it green.

8. Serve your lovely fresh perfectly steamed broccoli with just a touch of butter and salt and pepper or a tiny drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon.