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How to Cook Broccoli

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”
— President George WH Bush

Unlike the former President, I do like broccoli and with a recent stir-fry dish have even begun to convert my husband, so it’s not banned in our household!

When buying broccoli look for firm, compact clusters of small flower buds (florets). The buds should be dark green and may have a purplish tint to the edge.

If the florets are enlarged, opened, yellowish-green or wilted, then the broccoli is not fresh.

Try and buy your broccoli just before you need it. You can store broccoli in the fridge, in an open plastic bag, for up to three days, but the vitamin content will diminish the longer you leave it.

Broccoli can be blanched (boiled in a small amount of water), microwaved (with almost no water), steamed (on a rack above simmering water), or stir-fried.

How to Prepare Broccoli for Cooking

Make only what you are going to eat for dinner. Given fresh broccoli will cook in just a few minutes there is no point in making enough for leftovers. Also be sure not to overcook broccoli or it will not only turn to mush, but will develop into a very unappealing shade of green.

I use both the stalk and the floret for stir-fry, but only the floret as a vegetable side dish.

For an ordinary dinner at home, I like to microwave broccoli just to the point where it is almost cooked and then add salt and pepper. Sounds simple and it is!

Wash, don’t soak, broccoli in cool running water just before preparing.

Trim off any leaves that are attached to the stalk.

Trim off just the end of each stalk, leaving about 2 inches below the florets.

If you are using the stalk, peel the tough outer layer using a vegetable peeler or a knife.

Cut the stalk in half lengthwise.

Holding the strips together, cut the stalk crosswise to the desired size.

Finish trimming the broccoli by cutting each floret off the head, leaving a little stalk on each cluster. If the individual florets are fairly large, they can be sliced in half lengthwise to make smaller pieces.

Cooking Broccoli Florets in the Microwave

Always start with a microwave safe dish. Use a dish that is just big enough to hold the broccoli.

Put the florets in the dish in a single layer.

For ½ pound of broccoli, add 1 Tablespoon of water.

Cover with plastic wrap. Be sure to leave a steam vent in the corner.

Microwave on high about 3-4 minutes

With a fork stab the broccoli to check to see if it is cooked to your liking. Do not overcook. Broccoli will retain its bright green color, crisp tenderness and sweetness if you cook it just until a fork can pierce the stalk.

Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and…Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Servings:

  • 1/2 pound broccoli
  • 1 Tablespoon of water
  • Salt and Pepper

P.S.: If you’re a huge broccoli fan, try out chicken and broccoli stir fry recipe!

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Ian Welsh said:

Interesting and useful, especially as I eat rather a lot of broccoli. When microwaving, do you ever add a little spice or sauce? If so, any in particular which you reccomend?

Kathy Maister said:

Lots of different flavors compliment broccoli. My niece used to cook her broccoli and while it was steaming hot, lay a piece of American cheese on the top. It took about 15-20 seconds for the cheese to get all melted and gooey. She loved it! I prefer just a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. For company, I have cooked broccoli in a fry pan with olive oil and garlic and then garnished the dish with sliced almonds. Cold broccoli on a salad is great with just about any flavor salad dressing. I will be sure to add more broccoli recipes to the list! Cheers!

Broccoli said:

Thought you might find the following political history of broccoli amusing. Who knew that broccoli was so closely intertwined with American politics.

G said:

If you’re looking for a very simple sauce that is unusual but surprisingly tasty, toss the steamed broccoli in a small amount of red wine with some salt and a touch of cumin. Use very small amounts of all, you just want to add a hint of the flavors, not completely overpower the broccoli.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks G! This one is new to me and looks increciby easy! I’ll have to give it a try.

Rene Macaroglu said:

Broccoli cooks well in the pressure cooker with little water ( 2 minutes)…

Kathy Maister said:

Rene, some day I am going to have to learn how to use a pressure cooker. (To be honest, they scare me!)

Rene Macaroglu said:

Dear Kathy,

I experiment a lot with a pressure cooker and there is nothing to be scared of:

  • Put at least one glass of water to create steam.
  • Make sure the lid is clicked into place; turn the valve into closed (cooking) position.
  • Bring to boil; when the pressure is full, the excess steam evacuates by creating a hissing noise.
  • Start timing and progressively turn the heat down without loosing the hissing sound.
  • Cook 1/3rd of the normal cooking time.
  • Turn off the heat and open the valve to evacuate the vapor. When the red indicator disappears you can open the lid safely.
  • If there is a lot of water inside the cooker, you need to put it under running water instead of opening the valve because the hot water may spit out of the valve.
  • Another technique is to turn off the heat without opening the valve. The red indicator remains on for 10 minutes or so and the cooking continues more slowly.

Possible problems:

  1. The meal is overcooked. Solution: Experiment, open the lid every five minutes to check until you find the right duration.
  2. The meal is cooked but it’s too watery: Solution: Some ingredients suck the water more then others. Experiment with little water and check every five minutes by opening the lid.
  3. Some ingredients stick to the bottom of the pan. Solution 1: Use hot water and mix well before closing the lid; turn down the heat as soon as posiible. Solution 2: Put the sticking ingredient on top of the others or put it into a steaming basket .

Finally here are some meals that I like cooking in the pressure cooker:

  • Rice pilaff, boiling beans, boiling whole chicken, boiling vegetables, cooking soups, tender meat sauces etc…

I hope this will help you to start to create very light, tasty meals that cook in a few minutes using the pressure cooker.
You can check a modest video that I prepared with the pressure cooker at the following url:

I thank you also for producing valuable web content that keeps our interest alive to learn to cook better.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Rene! I really appreciate all the tips and advice! (I have another really good cook that also loves using a pressure cooking on my How to Cook a Pork Roast post.) Between the two of you, I just may be convinced. :)

shazza said:

Will my kids like this?

Rene Macaroglu said:

Thank you for this wonderful Pork Roast recipe. I know that broccoli has a nicer color in the microwave but one minute in the pressure cooker steam will kill all the microbes and bacteria which are the cause of reflux and other digestive diseases…

Viola said:

Why does broccoli sometimes smell like fish when I nuke it?

Kathy Maister said:

Hmmm. I’m not sure I know how to answer this question. The older broccoli gets the stronger the aroma. Perhaps you could try cooking broccoli on the same day you bought it to see if that makes a difference.

Rene Macaroglu said:

Dear Kathy,

Could you make a blog about cooking the corn whole in the microwave? If you cook little quantity, it goes very fast (4 mins per corn), especially if you wrap each corn in some wax paper.

Kathy Maister said:

Rene you must be a mind reader! I just photographed How to Cook Corn on the Cob and will be posting it next weekend!

Diane Pate said:

can you cook the leaves of broccli like

other greens. I hate to waste food,

How do you put in freezer -I have a garden full.

startcooking team said:

Diane Pate,

Here are some tips about broccoli found on this site :

To use the stalk of the broccoli:

– Peel the tough outer layer from the stalk using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Cut the stalk into quarters lengthwise. Holding the quartered strips together, cut the stalk crosswise to the desired size. –

To store broccoli:

– Broccoli should be left unwashed when storing. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, leaving the bag open or use a perforated plastic bag. This will avoid excess moisture, which causes mold to grow. Store up to 5 days. Broccoli can be blanched and then frozen and kept in the freezer for up to a year. Broccoli is very sensitive to ethylene, which is a gas given off by some fruits and vegetables. The gas speeds up the ripening process so broccoli should not be stored with ethylene producing fruits and vegetables, such as, apples, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, mango, peaches, pears, tomato, and white sapote. –

Happy Cooking!

the startcooking team :)

jools whitehouse said:

is it true that broccili lets off toxins and you shouldn’t cover it when cooking?

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Jools, I just Googled – broccoli cooking toxins – and discovered this article: Can Your Food Bite Back.
It does address toxins in food but there is no mention of covering or not covering the pot during the cooking process. There are tons of nutrition sites on the web that may well have a better answer for you. Be sure to let us know what you discover!

Kathryn said:

I tried this and thought it was a great, easy way to cook broccoli! I loved it! Can you cook other veggies this way, in the microwave? If so, how do the cook times vary?

startcooking said:

You absolutely can cook other vegetables this way as well!

Broccoli and cauliflower cook for approx. 3-4 minutes

Asparagus – approx. 2-4 minutes (Shown here)

Green Beans – approx. 2-4 minutes

Carrots, peeled and sliced – approx. 4-6 minutes

Just that easy, just that quick!

Mike said:

What are some low sodium seasonings that go good with broccoli?

startcooking said:

Hi Mike,
A fresh squeeze of lemon juice is great on broccoli. Or you could try quickly sauteing the cooked broccoli in some garlic seasoned olive oil, then sprinkle on some sliced almonds.
Good Luck!

jackie said:

can you please put up a video on how to make cream of broccoli soup!

startcooking said:

Hi Jackie,
I will add Cream of Broccoli to the ever growing list of requests!
Meanwhile, Video Jug has what looks to be a very good recipe. Taste of Home also has quite a collection of Broccoli Soup recipes.

stuart said:

Kathy is right, fresh lemon on broccoli & steam in corning ware with glass cover in m’wave.

How does kale taste?


startcooking said:

One of my favorite vegetables is kale!
Wash it, remove the stems, and rip it into about 2×3 inch pieces.
Spread it on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and then bake it in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Even vegetables haters will love it!

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