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How to cook broccoli

Lynn Wright / 25 April 2015

Tasty, healthy and versatile, broccoli is the perfect side dish to any main meal or as an ingredient in a host of recipes.

Cooked broccoli
Broccoli is healthy, versatile and quick to cook

This popular member of the cabbage family is usually served as a side vegetable for all sorts of meals. It’s also fantastic as an ingredient in many delicious recipes from soups and stir-fries to pasta, frittatas and casserole dishes.

When buying broccoli, look for a firm stalk and a head of bright green, undamaged florets. Yellow or brown spots and limp florets indicate the broccoli is past its best. Store unwrapped broccoli in the salad drawer of your fridge for up to a week.

To prepare, trim the florets off the broccoli. Cut and discard the tough end of the stalk, then finely slice the rest of the stalk.

Broccoli can be eaten raw to maximize its health benefits. However, blanching or lightly steaming helps make broccoli easier to digest, and improve its taste and texture without too much impact on its nutritional value. You can also sauté, stir-fry, or roast broccoli in the oven. Just don’t overcook it – or you’ll end up with an unpleasant tasting, soggy green mush.

Blanch broccoli

Bring a large pot of water with a teaspoon of salt added to a rapid boil. Add the broccoli florets (and stems if using) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the florets in a colander and then plunge immediately into a bowl of ice-cold water.

Boil broccoli

Bring a large pot of water with a teaspoon of salt added to a rapid boil. Add the broccoli florets (and stems if using) and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Test the broccoli with a tip of a knife – it should slide easily into the stems of the florets.

Steam broccoli

Place the broccoli in a steamer basket over a saucepan with a little boiling water, cover and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

To steam in the microwave, place the broccoli in a microwave-safe dish along with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the lid carefully and check if the broccoli is tender. If necessary, continue to microwave for 30 seconds at a time until the broccoli is tender.

Sauté broccoli

Dry the broccoli thoroughly. Add a tablespoon of oil to a wok or large frying pan and set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the florets along with a pinch of salt. Toss the broccoli in the oil and cook while continuing to stir until the broccoli is tender but still bright green.

Flavour partners for broccoli

Broccoli is delicious dressed with lemon juice, olive oil or butter and salt; or with garlic and chili or soy sauce in a stir-fry. Try it roasted with a sprinkle of parmesan on top or go further and smother it with a creamy cheese sauce.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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