Broccoli is a popular vegetable in that it is pretty easy to prepare and has a mild flavor. But there are many people who are not sure how to cook broccoli. My go-to preparation is a two-step method that starts with quickly blanching it in boiling water, this helps to soften the florets and makes them turn a brilliant bright green color.  Then after draining, I add the broccoli to a saute pan with some olive oil, minced garlic and salt and do a very short saute to complete the cooking process and create more flavor. I show you how to do both below.

When choosing broccoli in the store, look for a nice even green color with no blemishes or yellow spots. The broccoli stem should feel firm, soft stems or limp florets are a sign the vegetable is getting old. Store broccoli in the crisper drawer of the fridge until you are ready to use it, but I find it is always best if you cook it the same day.

HOW TO COOK BROCCOLI – BLANCHING

Ingredients
1 to 2 large heads broccoli
salt
olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced

Equipment
A paring knife
Cutting board
Pot for boiling water
Strainer
Saute pan
Spatula or tongs

Procedure

Trim the broccoli into florets – Slice straight through the broccoli stem as close to the crown as you can get, just where the larger stem starts to break into smaller stems.

raw cut broccoli on cutting board for How to Cook Broccoli

The crown should break into several large florets. Cut through the “trunk” of each floret to make pieces that are all about the same size.

slicing broccoli how to cook broccoli

Place these in a small bowl and run them under water to wash away any grit.

HOW TO BLANCH

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.   If the pot is big enough to fit all the vegetables where they can be submerged, then place them all in at once. If the vegetables wont all fit without being crammed, do half at a time.

Add a tsp of salt and the broccoli florets and cook until just tender, about 1 to 1 1/2  minutes.

raw cut broccoli on cutting board for How to Cook Broccoli

NOTE:  This is the subjective part of the cooking process. You might like your broccoli really crisp and al dente, or maybe you want it more cooked and soft. The general rule here is to grab a fork and pierce a piece of the broccoli to see how cooked it is, and take it out of the water when it is done to your liking. For me, just as the water starts to come back to a boil, the broccoli is perfect, which is about 1 to 2 minutes from when the vegetables went into the pot.  (The broccoli will only cook slightly more in the saute pan later)

Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a colander.

Place pot back on the stove and bring the water back to a boil.  Repeat steps with the remaining broccoli if needed.

NOTE: After I strain the broccoli, I shake the colander over the sink until most of the water has come out. Then I place some paper towels on the counter and dump the broccoli onto the paper towels in a single layer. This helps to get the remaining water out and lets the broccoli cool quickly, and not be mushy!

 

HOW TO COOK BROCCOLI – SAUTE WITH OIL AND GARLIC

Here is where the flavor comes in.

Place a non-stick saute pan over medium high heat. Once hot (about 30 seconds later), add some olive oil, this is about 1 tablespoon.

Add the minced garlic and let sizzle about 10 seconds, not too long, just enough for the garlic to impart its flavor out into the oil.

Add the blanched broccoli florets to the pan and toss to distribute the olive oil and garlic.  Sprinkle with a little salt, and then taste. Because you salted the cooking water, this may not need very much salt. Taste and add more if desired.
Place on a plate or bowl and serve.

I also like to sprinkle the broccoli with a little red pepper flakes. This is how my favorite Italian restaurant back on the East Coast used to serve it. Although theirs was dripping in olive oil and had enough garlic to ward off any vampires.

Serve and Enjoy!

HOW TO USE YOUR BLANCHED BROCCOLI

Once you blanch a bunch of broccoli, there are so many other ways to use it. Use it in recipes like these Broccoli and Zucchini Fritters. You can also add cooked broccoli into a breakfast frittata or quiche, check out my Dairy Free Vegetable Frittata recipe.

This cooked broccoli stays fresh in the fridge for a really long time when it is left plain like this.

Here is a printable version to keep in your collection.

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Steamed Broccoli in a pot and colander

Vegetable Techniques – Cooking Broccoli

  • Author: Andrea Sprague
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes

Description

Broccoli is a great vegetable in that it is pretty easy to prepare and has a mild flavor. I like to use a two-step cooking method that starts with quickly blanching it in boiling water, this helps to soften the florets and makes them turn a brilliant bright green color.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 large heads broccoli
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced

Equipment

  • A paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Pot for boiling water
  • Strainer
  • Saute pan
  • Spatula or tongs

Instructions

  1. Trimming into florets – Slice straight through the broccoli stem as close to the crown as you can get, just where the larger stem starts to break into smaller stems. The crown should break into several large florets. Cut through the “trunk” of each floret to make pieces that are all about the same size.
  2. Place these in a small bowl and run them under water to wash away any grit.
  3. Blanching – Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.   If the pot is big enough to fit all the vegetables where they can be submerged, then place them all in at once. If the vegetables won’t all fit without being crammed, do half at a time. Add a tsp of salt and the broccoli florets and cook until just tender, about 1 to 1 1/2  minutes.
  4. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a colander.
  5. Place pot back on the stove and bring the water back to a boil.  Repeat steps with the remaining broccoli if needed.
  6. Sauteing – here is where the flavor comes in. Place a non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot (about 30 seconds later), add some olive oil, this is about 1 tablespoon.
  7. Add the minced garlic and let sizzle about 10 seconds, not too long, just enough for the garlic to impart its flavor out into the oil.
  8. Add the blanched broccoli florets to the pan and toss to distribute the olive oil and garlic.  Sprinkle with a little salt, and then taste. Because you salted the cooking water, this may not need very much salt. Taste and add more if desired.
  9. Place on a plate or bowl and serve.

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