Frozen vegetables are one of my secret weapons for quick and healthy meals. Broccoli has been in heavy rotation lately – we take a bag out of the freezer, and in a few minutes, it's ready to be used in unexpected ways in all kinds of dishes.
1. Sauté it or roast it for a side dish.
While there's almost an endless amount of ways to use frozen vegetables, my go-to is usually as a side dish. You could simply defrost and heat, but it's really worth it to take the extra step to sauté or roast it for a little something more. Do keep in mind, though, that frozen broccoli isn't quite as firm as fresh, so plan to cut cook times almost in half.
2. Add it to a casserole.
One of the greatest things about casseroles is their versatility. Whether you're out of fresh, or you just want to add more veggies, this is a great way to use frozen broccoli.
3. Use it in a strata or frittata.
Who said broccoli was just for dinner? Defrost a few cups and add it to your favorite strata or frittata for brunch. You could even use it as an omelette filling.
4. Use it in a stir-fry.
If you're out of fresh broccoli, defrost the appropriate amount of frozen broccoli and toss it in the wok. Keep in mind that since it's not as firm as fresh broccoli, the cook time will be short and quick. Just enough to get it heated through.
5. Make it a pizza topping.
Yes to veggies on pizza! The key to making frozen broccoli a stand-out pizza topping is making sure to get rid of any excess water. The best way to do this (and add more flavor in the process!) is by tossing it with a little olive oil and roasting it in the oven for 1o to 15 minutes.
6. Toss it with pasta.
One of my favorite ways to liven up a plain bowl of pasta is by adding some frozen vegetables. If you're sticking with a basic tomato sauce, cook the frozen broccoli right in the sauce by adding it a couple minutes before the sauce is finished cooking.
7. Transform it into a pasta sauce.
You can also transform frozen broccoli into a pasta sauce. Any kind of greens, including broccoli, can be used to make pesto sauce. And since this sauce starts with steamed broccoli, the frozen stuff works like a charm once it's defrosted.
8. Mix it into a soup.
Whether or not the recipes calls for it, soups are just right for frozen broccoli. And the best part is that you don't even have to defrost it first. Add it right to the soup as it's cooking. Just don't add it too soon, or you'll end up with mushy broccoli.
9. Use it as a taco or burrito filling.
When it comes to tacos and burritos, anything goes. It's a good way to rely on foods I already have, like hearty frozen vegetables. You can either give frozen broccoli a quick steam, or toss the frozen florets with a little olive oil and roast them in the oven for 1o to 15 minutes.
10. Add it to a rice bowl.
Rice and grain bowls are a standby for quick, easy dinners — and adding frozen broccoli is a simple way to sneak more veggies in there.
What's your favorite way to use frozen broccoli?
This post has been updated - first published January 2010 by Joanna Miller.
(Image credits: Kelli Foster; Vanessa Barrington; Faith Durand)