How To Cook Broccoli
There are several methods that will turn this much-maligned vegetable into a family-favorite.
I am not going to give you a lecture on why you should eat your broccoli. As a child, when your mom was cajoling you to finish your vegetables, she probably filled your ear with all the nutritious benefits to be found in broccoli. While she was correct about that important point, Mom only knew one way to cook broccoli, and that was boiled into a soft, green, almost formless mush. Fortunately, there are actually several delicious ways to prepare broccoli that will make even the most finicky eaters finish their vegetables.
How to Buy the Best Broccoli
When buying broccoli, choose a head that has overall bright, green color with little to no brown or yellow spots. Soft stems and limp florets are a sign of old broccoli, so look for a stem that feels firm and a crown that is tight and springy. Fresh broccoli should keep for about a week in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
How to Prepare Broccoli
Whether you love to use broccoli raw in salads, baked into cheesy casseroles, or roasted with a few seasonings and spices, you still need to know how to cut the vegetable.
Trim off the florets: Slice straight through the broccoli stem as close to the crown as you can get. The crown should break into several large florets. Cut through each floret to make bite- sized pieces, then place them in a colander and run under cool water to wash away any grit.
Don’t toss the stem: The large stem of the broccoli is entirely edible. Trim off any leaves or blemishes and, if you wish, remove the top layer of skin with a vegetable peeler. The bottom inch of the stem is usually dry, so you can cut that off and discard it. You can slice the remaining stem into coin-sized disks and use alongside the broccoli florets, or you can grate the stem and use it in a broccoli slaw.
How to Cook Broccoli
Blanching: The easiest way to cook broccoli is to blanch it. Fill a large bowl or sink with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, add the broccoli florets (blanch the florets and stems separately) and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, quickly remove the broccoli florets and immediately plunge them in the ice water to stop the cooking process. Enjoy blanched broccoli in vegetable platters and cold salads, casseroles.
Steaming: Fill a pot with a few inches of water and insert a steamer basket over top. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli florets and stems and cover. Steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Enjoy steamed broccoli as a side dish drizzled with seasonings and olive oil or a cheese sauce, or stir it into pasta dishes and hearty casseroles.
Sautéing: Make sure the broccoli is dry. Add a tablespoon or two of oil to a skillet and set over medium-high to high heat. Add the florets and a pinch of salt, stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is bright green and tender. Enjoy sautéed broccoli alone or as part of a vegetable stir-fry.
Roasting: Preheat your oven to 425°F. Make sure the broccoli is dry and toss with oil and salt. Spread the broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet line with aluminum foil (this makes cleanup easier). Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the broccoli is crunchy and you can see deep caramelized brown spots. Enjoy roasted broccoli as a side dish, in salads, or as a pizza topping.