Most parents recognise the health benefits of broccoli but often struggle to get their children to eat (and enjoy) it. Broccoli is wonderfully versatile and can be added to a multitude of dishes, incorporated into quiches, salads and even as a pizza topping, or simply served as an accompaniment to meat or fish. Broccoli can be a great addition to meals for both you and your youngest, but is only great when cooked well. Broccoli can be eaten raw but blanching it first in boiling water will bring out its flavour and give it a more crisp-tender texture.
When buying broccoli, choose the one that has a solid green colour without any major yellowing or brown spots. The stem of the broccoli should feel firm whereas the crown should be tight and springy. A soft stem and a limp crown are signs of old broccoli. Broccoli should be stored in the crisper drawer in the fridge, and can keep for at least a week.
Supermarkets often wrap up the broccoli in cellophane – whenever possible, be sure to choose the unwrapped type if you can, as these (if they still look good) are very likely to have been more recently picked.
Begin by trimming off the florets. Make a slice directly through the stem of the broccoli, as close to the crown as possible. This should make the crown break into several large florets. Continue by cutting through the ‘trunk’ of each floret, creating bite-sized pieces. Place them in a bowl and run them under water to wash away any dirt.
The main stem of the broccoli is edible, so you should trim away any leaves or blemishes and only use what’s remaining. If you want you can remove the harder top layer of skin using a vegetable peeler. As the bottom centimetre of the stem is usually too dry to be tasty, it should be sliced off. Slice the remaining stem into discs and keep them separate to the florets, as the stems will take longer to cook.
Keep a bowl of ice water to hand. Bring a large pan of water to boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook until tender, usually around 1-1½ minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge directly into the ice water. Re-boil the water in the pan and add the stems. Cook until crisp-tender, usually for 1½ - 2 minutes. Leave in for an additional 30 seconds if you want them extra soft. Blanched broccoli is great when used in vegetable platters, cold salads, frittatas and casseroles.
Fill a pan with a few centimetres of water and place the steamer basket over the top. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the steamer basket. Bring the water to a simmer over a medium-high heat, add the florets and stems and cover. Steam for 4-5 minutes until tender. Steamed broccoli can be used as a side dish with seasonings and olive oil, or in warm salads, casseroles and soups.
Make sure the broccoli is as dry as possible. Add olive oil to a frying pan and set over medium-high heat. Add the florets. Toss the florets around so they’re coated with the oil. Add the stem one minute later. Continue cooking until the broccoli is bright green and tender. For great flavour add in ½ of a Knorr Chicken Stock Pot or ½ of a Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot.
Heat the oven to 220°C, toss the florets and stems with a few teaspoons of oil. Spread out the broccoli on a foil-lined baking tray, in a single layer. Roast until the broccoli becomes crunchy and caramelised (about 20-25 minutes). Serve immediately. Roasted broccoli is great in both warm and cold salads or as a pizza topping. If used as a pizza topping, you should shorten the cooking time as it will get cooked again on the pizza.
If you want to add a twist to your regular broccoli, why not give our Broccoli in White Sauce recipe a try? With only 5 minutes preparation time, this recipe is a quick and easy way jazz up your broccoli. Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot gives the basic ingredients of flour, milk and Stork Margarine a delicious taste: perfect to drizzle over freshly steamed broccoli.