The best broccoli recipe for perfectly steamed broccoli! It's simple and straightforward, with plenty of tips for picking out the best broccoli, cutting, trimming, and cooking it to perfection! Plus, a bonus broccoli cheese sauce recipe the kids will love!
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Broccoli isn't necessarily a vegetable I've loved my whole life. In fact, when I was a child, I wouldn't even touch the stuff unless it was drowned in cheese sauce. And, while I wouldn't necessarily refuse the cheese sauce these days, I have definitely come to appreciate both the flavor and texture of broccoli...as long as it's cooked right, that is.
However, before we can get into cooking it right, we need to start with a quality product. Ingredients matter, especially when it's the only ingredient in the dish! That's one of the wonderful things about broccoli -- a healthy stand-alone vegetable side dish, perfect for busy weeknights and quick fix dinners. Here are the best tips for picking out both fresh and frozen broccoli.
THE BEST BROCCOLI RECIPE STARTS WITH THE BEST BROCCOLI
When shopping for fresh broccoli in the produce section, look for crowns with a tightly compacted flowery head and a purple-y tinge amongst the green, with little-to-no browning or discoloration.
When shopping for broccoli amongst the frozen vegetables, choose a high-quality brand over generic, and go for organic if you're able. The higher quality brands tend put a better quality product overall, with florets that are still intact and properly cut.
Note, there is a different between "broccoli cuts", and the packages labeled "broccoli florets." Broccoli cuts will include chopped up pieces of the stalk as well as florets, and the florets will be solely broccoli florets.
HOW TO TRIM FRESH BROCCOLI
To trim fresh broccoli, remove any leaves that remain, and turn the crown upside down on the cutting board. Using a paring knife, begin cutting the florets from the stem. If the florets you cut away are fairly large, or branch off into more than one floret, either cut it in half or into individual smaller florets. The goal is for all of the pieces to be about the same size. See the video below for an Anthony Kitchen demo!
If you'd like to include the stalk, as well as the florets, first peel it with a vegetable peeler, and cut into a ½" dice. The size of the dice is important because if left too large, your florets will be cooked long before the stalk pieces.
HOW TO USE A STEAMER BASKET
Of all the ways to cook broccoli, steaming has got to be the easiest and the best way to preserve the nutrients within. Not only that, but it tastes great as well.
To steam the broccoli, you'll need a steamer basket, and a pot (with a fitted lid) large enough for the steamer basket to sit in. However, the pot should not be so large that the edges of the steamer basket don't touch the sides.
Before the steamer basket goes in, water is added to the pot. The amount of water will vary depending on the size of your pot, however, you want to be sure that the water level is just below the bottom of the steamer basket, and it should not be any fuller than that.
I currently use this Norpro steamer basket I bought from Amazon.com, and I've had it for years now. It's inexpensive (always in the $8-10 range), dishwasher safe, and all you really need in terms of a steamer basket. No frills or fuss necessary for this particular kitchen tool. Simple is best.
HOW TO STEAM BROCCOLI
Once you know how to use a steamer basket, steaming broccoli could not be any easier. Add a small amount of water to the pot, place the steamer basket in the pot, and the desired amount of fresh or frozen broccoli pieces. Place the fitted lid on the pot, and transfer to the stovetop over medium heat. Reduce the heat slightly if the lid starts to quiver. Steam for 10-13 minutes, or until the broccoli is fork tender.
Keep in mind that the broccoli will continue cooking a bit more, even after you have removed the lid, so if you prefer a firmer bite, remove from the heat as soon as the broccoli is fork tender.
Scoop the broccoli out of the steamer basket using a long spoon, and transfer to a serving dish, or directly to the dinner plate. If you'd like to season the broccoli, you could drizzle it lightly with olive oil. Olive oil will help the seasoning to stay in place. Then, sprinkle with salt and pepper...or completely smother it in a homemade Cheddar sauce (see the bonus recipe below!), my personal childhood favorite. Enjoy!
A simple recipe for perfectly steamed broccoli.
- 2 broccoli crowns or 1 (16 ounce) package of frozen broccoli florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
- ½ teaspooon Kosher salt
- Generious pinch of black pepper
If using fresh broccoli, remove any leaves that remain. Turn the crown upside down on the cutting board. Using a paring knife, cut the florets from the stem. If the florets you cut away are fairly large cut in half or into individual smaller florets.
Fill a saucepan with about a ¼” of water and place steamer basket inside, and place over medium heat. Add the broccoli and place lid atop. Allow to steam for 10-13 minutes, depending on how tender you like your broccoli. Remove from the heat right away.
Remove the broccoli from the steamer basket and transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Gently toss, serve immediately and enjoy.
TRY IT WITH A HOMEMADE CHEDDAR SAUCE!
A creamy cheese sauce perfect for drizzling over broccoli!
- 1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1 c Whole Milk warmed
- ⅔ c Freshly Grated Cheddar Cheese
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
- Pinch of Black Pepper
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes, but do not allow to brown.
Add milk a generous splash at a time, whisking after each addition until all of the milk has been incorporated. Allow the sauce to bubble for 5-7 minutes, just until slightly thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar. Once the cheese is melted, stir in salt and pepper. Serve right away.