How to Cook Broccoli, 5 Ways

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

Allow me to present to you the humble broccoli, beloved steamed side dish with lemon and butter, faithful team-player to quick stir-fries, virtuous add-in to any number of cheesy pasta dishes. Broccoli is the vegetable we reach for when we need a little something extra to round out a meal. Here's how to trim it down to bite-sized pieces, along with five ways to cook it up.

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When buying broccoli, choose vegetables that have a uniform green color with no major brown or yellowing spots. The broccoli stem should feel firm and the crown should be tight and springy; soft stems or limp florets are a sign of old broccoli. Store broccoli in the crisper drawer in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Broccoli should keep fairly well for at least a week.

Broccoli can be eaten raw, but blanching it quickly in boiling water helps give it a more crisp-tender texture and bring out its flavor. Broccoli can also be steamed, sautéed, and roasted. You could even throw long spears on the grill!

How do you like to prepare broccoli?

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What You Need

Ingredients

1 or more heads broccoli

Equipment

A paring knife
Equipment for cooking

Instructions

1. 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 the "trunk" of each floret to make bite-sized pieces. Place these in a small bowl and run them under water to wash away any grit.

2. Trim and Slice the Stem - The main stem of the broccoli is entirely edible. Trim off any leaves or blemishes. You can remove the tougher top layer of skin with a peeler if you would like, but it's not necessary. Slice off the bottom inch of the stem and discard (it's usually too dry to be very tasty). Slice the remaining stem into disks. Stems take longer than florets to cook, so place all these slices in a separate bowl from the florets. Tinse under water to wash away any grit.

Cooking Method #1: Blanching - Prepare a bowl of ice water and have it next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a heaping tablespoon of salt. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, 1 - 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately in the ice water. Let the water come back to a boil, then cook the stems until they are also crisp-tender, 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. If you would like softer vegetables, cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Uses for Blanched Broccoli: Vegetable platters, cold salads, frittatas and other casseroles.

Cooking Method #2: Steaming in the Microwave - Place the broccoli florets and stems in a microwave-safe dish and pour 2-3 tablespoons of water over top. Cover with a dinner plate and microwave on HIGH for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid carefully and check if the broccoli is tender. Microwave in additional 1-minute bursts if necessary.

Uses for Steamed Broccoli: Side dish with olive oil and seasonings, warm salads, frittatas and casseroles, soups.

Cooking Method #3: Steaming on the Stove Top - Fill a pot with a few inches of water and insert a steamer basket over top. Be sure the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli florets and stems and cover. Steam for 4-5 minutes, until tender.

Uses for Steamed Broccoli: Side dish with olive oil and seasonings, warm salads, frittatas and casseroles, soups.

Cooking Method #4 - Sautéing - Make sure the broccoli is as dry as possible (you can skip rinsing under water if your broccoli seems clean). Film a skillet with oil and set over medium-high heat. Add the florets and a big pinch of salt. Toss to coat with oil. Add the stems 1 minute later. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is bright green and tender.

Uses for Sautéed Broccoli: vegetable sautés, side dish with seasonings

Cooking Method #5 - Roasting Heat the oven to 425°F. Make sure the broccoli is as dry as possible (you can skip rinsing under water if your broccoli seems clean). Toss the broccoli florets and stems with a few teaspoons of oil and a half teaspoon of salt. Spread the broccoli on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the broccoli is crunchy and you can see deep caramelized brown spots. Serve immediately.

Uses for Roasted Broccoli - Side dish, cold or warm salads, pizza topping (under-roast slightly so the broccoli doesn't burn on the pizza)


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(Images: Emma Christensen)

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