Learn how to cook broccoli in all ways possible. Why it's good for you and what's the best way to cook broccoli. How to serve it, and why steaming, roasting and frying broccoli are the healthiest methods to cook it.
What is broccoli
Broccoli is a green vegetable superfood found in the cabbage family, Brassicaceae.
It's been cultivated in Europe for more than 2000 years and its origin can be tracked down to Sicily during the times of the Roman empire.
It can be eaten raw or cooked and has a huge amount of healthy vitamins and minerals that makes it one of the healthiest foods to eat when cooked correctly.
There are a few different varieties of broccoli ranging from the regular green large head to the smaller and longer tender stem and also purple sprouting broccoli to name a few.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is a superfood packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
The various cooking methods listed may affect the Broccoli's nutrient makeup, but broccoli is a super healthy part of any diet whether eaten cooked or raw.
Broccoli also contains a ton of antioxidants. They are very potent and support normal cell function throughout our bodies.
It's also believed and backed by some studies that broccoli contains bioactive compounds that act as an anti-inflammatory.
These same bioactive compounds also protect against cell damage and studies have shown it may even help prevent certain types of cancer.
Lastly, it's packed full of fibre and in return aids in digestion and help regulate blood sugar levels. The list goes on but, I think we get the point.
Broccoli is super healthy. No matter how you eat it.
The Best Broccoli to Buy
- Buy broccoli that looks fresh, green and does not display any major blemishes.
- The stem and florets should feel firm and crisp. Not soft and rubbery.
- A tell-tale sign of old vegetables is a loss of crispness, colour and signs of blemishes.
- The same goes quality check goes for all other vegetables.
How to Prepare Broccoli
- Like all vegetables wash it under cold running water.
- Remove the florets by first removing the central thick stem. The stem can be kept on if you plan to grill it or do larger wedges though.
- After the stem is removed break off the florets into bite-size pieces and set aside.
- Remove the bottom toughest part of the stem and discard. It's not edible.
- Peel the outer layer of skin and remove any blemishes.
- Cut the cleaned stem into 1cm slices.
- Cook separate from florets as the stem is harder and takes more time to cook.
What is the healthiest way to cook broccoli?
Quick methods like steaming, pan frying, oven-roasting and microwaving are the best ways to cook broccoli.
Cooking broccoli quickly and without submerging in water retains most of the nutrients and minerals.
This is because broccoli contains high levels of vitamin C and B which are both soluble in water and destroyed under prolonged cooking times.
Cooking it as quickly as possible also retains its vibrant colour and the texture will stay crisp and not go to mush.
Useful equipment needed
Bamboo Steamer Basket
- Set a pot filled about ⅛th with water over high heat.
- Place your broccoli florets into the basket and close the lid.
- Carefully place over the pot of boiling water and steam for 4 minutes.
Serve with soy sauce and chilli oil, add last minute to stir-fry or simply season with salt and pepper.
You could also chill the broccoli down in an ice bath if you want to use it later, the following day or in other cold dishes.
Just remember to dry well on a kitchen towel before storing in the fridge.
- Prepare a bowl of water with ice. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt the water. 1.5% of saltwater is always good. This is to stop the broccoli from losing too much flavour to the water. There is no such thing as salt keeps the colour or lowers the boiling point of water. All disproven old myths.
- Boil the florets for 1,5 minutes and with a slotted spoon remove and place into the ice water. When the broccoli has cooled down. Remove from the ice bath and dry it on a kitchen towel.
Add it to salads. Dip it in some hummus for a healthy snack. Or, simply drizzle with some olive oil and freshly ground black pepper, a touch of sea salt and enjoy.
In the Microwave
Very much the easiest, cleanest and quickest way to cook broccoli.
- Place some broccoli florets in a microwave-safe dish. Pour 25g of water into the dish and cover with a plate, lid or microwave-safe cling wrap. This is so that the water turns to steam and keeps the broccoli from drying out.
- Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Carefully test it and cook on 30-second bursts if it needs more cooking.
- Drizzle with some olive oil, fresh black pepper and flakey sea salt.
Alternatively, use it in warm salads or side dishes or add to stews or casseroles last minute.
- Heat a frying pan and add a tablespoon of canola oil.
- Fry the broccoli on all sides until nicely caramelised.
- turn the heat down to medium and close the pan with a lid.
- Let the broccoli cook until it's "al dente" or cooked but still has a little crunch to it.
When you are happy with the doneness, season with salt, pepper, olive oil and a touch of lemon juice.
If you like garlic then crush a clove or two and add to the pan off the heat along with olive oil and seasoning.
Serve as side dish or light dinner vegan dinner.
Roasted broccoli is a wonderful thing. Juicy and vibrant with some crispy roasted bits on the outside.
- Heat your oven to 250 degrees Celcius or 482 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare an oven sheet.
- Toss the broccoli florets in some olive oil and season with salt.
- Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it's caramalised.
Season with black pepper and some more olive oil.
This is a bit of a naughty one but cooked correctly and served with proper food, is a winner.
- Heat a fryer or pot of oil to 180 degrees Celcius or 356 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fry in small batches until the broccoli has a bit of colour and crispiness.
- When done, drain on a paper towel to get rid of excess oil.
- Season with salt and pepper or a sprinkling of homemade dukkah mix.
Serve with aioli or lemon mayonnaise.
You could also make a quick tempura batter and make broccoli tempura.
In the Air fryer
Air frying is very much the same oven roasting.
- Turn your air fryer up to hight.
- Toss the broccoli in some olive oil and season with salt only.
- Air fry till nice and golden brown.
My favourite way to cook broccoli.
- Wash and quarter the broccoli.
- Remove the bottom part of the stem as it's too hard to eat.
- Steam or blanch partially for 2 minutes.
- Drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt.
- Cook on a hot grill or barbecue and turn often giving it a nice charred.
Broccoli can be served with a wide variety of dishes and any time of day as a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Serve with the following.
Or serve simply with one of these homemade condiments.
- Sriracha hot sauce
- Kecap manis
- Authentic Teriyaki
- Caesar sauce
- Garlic and mushroom butter
- Chimichurri sauce
Frequently asked questions
Like most other green vegetables make sure you wash it under cold water and dry off any excess water before storing in your fridges crisper drawer or zip lock bag.
When frozen broccoli gets defrosted it leaks a lot of water. Before frying or grilling make sure it's dried well on a kitchen or tea towel.
Broccoli is best fresh but if you want you could freeze it in airtight sealed containers until needed.
100 grams of broccoli contains 34 calories.
Because we are dealing with mini broccoli cooking times will be less and the vegetable will cook much quicker. Broccolini is best briefly steamed and then quickly pan-fried.
Other recipes you might like
If you want to know how to do the basics right or properly cook simple dishes you will find the following recipes helpful.
- Perfectly cooked rice
- How to chop onion or shallot
- Sourdough starter from scratch
- The perfect steak
- Authentic Greek salad
- Silky smooth mashed potatoes
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