An esteemed member of the cruciferous vegetable family, broccoli is one of the most famous dark leafy greens. It’s said to contain more vitamin C than an orange, and more absorbable calcium than a glass of milk. Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin K and fiber, and is known for containing immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties.
Broccoli can be a bit tough and dry when raw. But when lightly steamed and seasoned, it’s easily transformed into a delicious and nourishing dish. Toss with pasta and chicken for a weeknight meal, or create a salad for a satisfying side. You can also incorporate it into a homemade vegetable stir-fry that’s better than any takeout.
Steamed Broccoli 101
1 bunch broccoli
- Wash the broccoli and cut the florets into bite-sized pieces. With a peeler (or knife) peel the stalk to remove the tough exterior, and cut crosswise into ½-inch slices.
- Place a large plate or baking dish nearby to cool the vegetables when they come out of the steamer.
- Fit a steamer basket inside a large pot, and fill it with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil.
- Carefully transfer the florets to the basket, and cover the pot with a lid. Steam for about 5 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Quickly remove the vegetables from the steamer basket with tongs. Spread them out on the plate or baking dish in a single layer with space in between, to cool and stop steaming.
- Chicken and Broccoli. Chop about 1 pound of chicken breast or thigh meat into 1-inch pieces. Place a pot over medium heat. Coat with olive oil, and sauté 3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic, just until fragrant. Add the chicken and sauté until cooked. Toss in the steamed broccoli and combine. Season with more oil and salt to taste.
- Gluten-Free Spaghetti with Broccoli. Cook about 1 pound of gluten-free spaghetti, such as Tinkyada brand, according to package instructions. When the pasta is drained and cooled, add the steamed broccoli. Meanwhile, sauté 3 to 4 cloves of garlic in a little olive oil, add to the pasta, and combine. Season with more oil and salt to taste, and toss well.
- Broccoli Salad. After the broccoli is completely cooled, chop it into bite-sized pieces. Toss with dried cranberries and toasted chopped nuts (such as almonds). Combine with your favorite dressing. A thicker mustard or tahini-based dressing works well. Let chill for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
As the recipe indicates, be sure to use the stem of the broccoli. Although often discarded, the stem is completely useful and tastes just as delicious as the florets. Peel well so the flesh is exposed on all sides, and slice into about ½-inch pieces. If the stems are too large, they will take longer to steam than the florets.
Broccoli’s immune-boosting properties can help ward off cold and flu germs and prevent illness. This is especially helpful during cold, snowy winter months. It’s also a mindful way to recharge your body after traveling or spending long hours at the office.
If you or your kids are averse to broccoli, it’s easy to hide mild-tasting florets in your favorite dishes. Try steamed broccoli in mac and cheese, baked potatoes, and pasta. Also, experiment with various dressings, seasonings, and preparations. All it takes is the right recipe to win you over!