What You Need to Know About Smashed Broccoli

Trust us, it's better than it sounds

Kid with Broccoli
Kid with Broccoli. Photo: Gettyimages/Elizabethsalleebauer

"Mashed broccoli" and "mushy broccoli" are not the same thing. One is a delicious and nutrient-packed side dish for a weeknight meal, and the other is a kitchen mistake that should be avoided at all costs. Our trick to perfect mashed broccoli is to sweat the broccoli pieces—cooking vegetables in a small amount of oil over low heat—for a few minutes before steaming it in just the right amount of liquid to prevent oversaturation.

The mild and (dare I say) sweet flavor of broccoli compliments everything from a creamy cheese sauce to a sharp vinaigrette. Prepared the wrong way, this vegetable breaks down into a single mushy texture and emits an unpleasant odor.

WATCH: Pasta-Chicken-Broccoli Bake

Here are steps for making mashed broccoli the right way:

Prep the Broccoli

When you cut off the head of broccoli, don't throw away the stem! This part of the plant is covered in a thick protective layer, but underneath it is the most tender and sweet part of the plant! Simply remove the outside layer of the stem with a potato peeler. Cut the peeled stems into ¾-inch pieces and cut the head of broccoli into ¾-inch florets.

Prep the Pan

Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add enough oil to barely coat the bottom of the pan. Be sure to use a skillet or pan with a lid that will allows you to cover the broccoli while it cooks.

Cook the Broccoli

Add the broccoli to the heated pan, and season with salt (1 teaspoon of salt for every 2 medium-sized heads of broccoli). Cover the pan and sweat the broccoli until it is slightly tender, stirring occasionally to cook evenly (about 8 minutes). Add ¾ cup of vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water to the broccoli; cover and simmer until the liquid has evaporated (about 5 minutes).

Mash the Broccoli

Use a potato masher to break up the tender broccoli pieces into a spoonable vegetable side that goes well with a roasted chicken or a juicy steak.

Make It Your Own

Add sautéed onions for a punchier flavor. Swap out one of the heads of broccoli for a head of cauliflower for a wider range of texture. Puree the broccoli until almost smooth and mix into mashed potatoes with parmesan or pecorino cheese for a green, unforgettable mashed potato dish.

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