Broccoli is right up there with the world’s healthiest foods, tons of nutrients and very few calories, but cooking it the same way all the time can get boring. Learn some ways you can make it an exciting and healthy addition to your table.
One of my favorite “eat as much as you want” snacks is broccoli. It gives you that satisfying crunch when you snack on it raw but without all the fat and calories. I like to eat some with a lite-mayo and honey mustard mixture as a dip for guilt-free TV snacking. If I’m in the mood for it hot, I steam it in the microwave with some salt and pepper. But I have to admit, that before I knew more ways to cook it, I would go through times when I was just bored of it.
But not anymore! I searched for some of the more delicious ways to cook broccoli that would spice it up, while still keeping it healthy and low-cal. I’ve compiled these below, starting off with the main four ways to cook broccoli, and then moving into some recipes that use those basics to create delicious – totally NOT boring – broccoli dishes.
First, let’s take a look at why you want to invite this Super Food to your family’s table.
- Cancer Prevention: Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. It also contains indole-3-cerbinol, a powerful antioxidant and anti-carcinogen.
- Lower Cholesterol: It helps to reduce cholesterol by being packed with soluble fiber.
- Reduced Inflammation: It helps reduce allergy reaction and inflammation. Broccoli is a rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, both anti-inflammatory phyto nutrients. (Check my note about The Healing Self)
- Vitamin C: It contains powerful antioxidants and it is an excellent source of vitamin C.
- Stronger Bones: It helps make your bones stronger, because it contains high levels of calcium and vitamin K.
- Low Cal: It is your friend when you’re on a diet. It’s considered a smart carb, high in fiber aiding digestion and preventing constipation. A cup of broccoli also contains as much protein as a cup of rice or corn, but with half the calories.
So, all in all, it’s a pretty great vegetable that is packed with nutrients and one that you can eat as much as you want without breaking your diet. So, now let’s take a look at the best ways to cook it.
Four Main Methods to Cook Broccoli
Roasting: Roasting is just about the easiest cooking method for broccoli, and the florets get a nice crispness to them. To roast, you preheat the oven to about 425F. Wash and dry the broccoli thoroughly. Cut into spears, coat well with olive oil, and spread onto a baking sheet and salt and pepper as you like. Bake for 10 minutes, flip each piece over, bake for 10 more minutes.
Slow-Cooking: This will give your broccoli more of a silky texture, and really brings out the flavor. Be sure to keep heat low and stir regularly. To slow-cook, you would cut the broccoli off the main stalk, pour 1/2 cup of water (or chicken broth) into the slow cooker, add some butter or oil and salt and pepper. Cook covered on slow heat for two to three hours until tender.
Boiling: If you’re in a hurry, this is the fastest way to cook broccoli. But you can lose some of the nutrients in the water. (I use a steamer inset in my pan). Boiled broccoli will continue to cook after you take it out of the pot, so you will want to cool it quickly. You can plunge it in ice water to preserve the bright green color. To boil, you would bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add salt and the broccoli florets, and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 to 1/2 minutes.
Sautéing: It’s not only cool to say it in a French accent, sautéing gives a golden edge to the broccoli. You need a large and very hot skillet to get it just right. You can add a little water to the skillet to create steam that will help speed up the cooking. To sauté, you would heat olive oil (or other oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the broccoli florets, salt and pepper and toss with the oil until it becomes tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Of course, you can also use the microwave, but it’s definitely not as good as one of the methods above. Plus, with boiling only taking like a minute and a half, the microwave would definitely not be a time saver there.
Delicious Broccoli Recipes Everyone Will Love
Healthy Broccoli Roman Style
Who doesn’t want to sound all fancy by cooking broccoli “Roman Style?!” Plus, this recipe has whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs…Yumm! This is actually a really lovely dish that you would be proud serving up for guests (while casually mentioning your Roman cooking style). This recipe comes to us from thefoodnetwork.com.
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, stems peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons plus 1 table spoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 cup white win
Pinch red pepper flakes
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Cook broccoli in a large pot of salted boiling water until just bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water (or ice water). Drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Add the panko and cook, stirring, until the panko is just lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it just turns golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir in the wine, pepper flakes and broccoli. Sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is heated through and the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the panko and lemon zest.
Sautéed Broccoli, Tomatoes, and Bacon
Okay, this one has one slightly less than totally healthy ingredient – bacon. But if you’re having trouble getting a husband, kid, or brother to jump on the broccoli bandwagon, then this recipe from Real Simple may just win them over.
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (6 cups)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and black pepper
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
To the skillet, add the broccoli and tomatoes and cook, tossing often, until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with the bacon.
Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry
TodaysParent.com shares this great recipe that the whole family should love. I know that whenever I hit a Chinese food buffet, I always make a beeline for the beef and broccoli. Here’s a great, healthy version you can make that also is time friendly – just 8 minutes prep time and 8 minutes cooking time. It doesn’t get much better than that on a busy weeknight.
1 lb 4oz sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce, divided
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tsp peeled, chopped fresh ginger
6 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup homemade or sodium-free chicken stock
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
Combine beef with sherry vinegar and 1 tbsp soy sauce, and toss together.
Heat a wok or large skillet over high. Add oil and carefully tilt wok to coat. Working in batches, sear beef for 1 min or until browned on the outside but not cooked through. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add garlic and ginger to wok, and sauté for 30 sec. or until fragrant. Add broccoli and stir-fry for 1 min or until it begins to turn bright green. Add ¼ cup water to wok, cover with a lid and steam for 2 min or until just tender-crisp. Combine remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce, chicken stock and oyster sauce, and add to wok. Bring to a boil and cook 1 min or until flavors are combined.
Stir in cornstarch mixture, add reserved beef and cook 1 min longer or until sauce is thickened and beef is heated through. Serve over rice noodles or steamed rice.
Slow Cooker Cream of Broccoli and Ham Soup
It took me a while to find a suitable slow cooking recipe with broccoli that was different, original, and looked like a real winning way to dress that vegetable up. This soup by Melissa at Pioneering Today was like finding a golden ticket, and then another, once I saw that not only does it look delicious, it is also low cost to make and only has 10 minutes of prep time, then you let it all cook in the slow cooker. She even breaks down the total cost per serving, which came out to just about 94 cents each. Nice!
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 cups chicken or bone broth
2 cups diced ham
3 cups chopped broccoli
¼ cup minced onion
1 cup grated mozzarella, swiss, or queso fresco cheese
1 cup cream
Whisk together corn starch and broth in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add all other ingredients except the cream! Stir together. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Pour cream in, stir, and serve.
She has some great photos and step by steps at her blog, so I highly recommend taking a look: http://melissaknorris.com/slow-cooker-cream-of-broccoli-and-ham-soup-frugal-supper/
Whether you like it pure, drizzled with just a tad of olive oil and parmesan cheese, or would rather have it dressed up next to beef or chicken, broccoli is definitely a super food that you want to invite to your table regularly.
These recipes give you just a taste of the ways possible to jazz it up a bit and make it yummy, while still allowing the health benefits to shine through. Healthy eating, definitely can taste good too!