What is broccoli?
Broccoli is an edible plant in the cabbage family that is a great side dish for any meat and two veg meal. It is actually a manmade invention, having been created from selective cultivation of wild cabbage hundreds of years ago. We love broccoli in our house.
What are the best ways to cook broccoli?
There are many ways in which it can be cooked, and in this blog post I will describe seven different ways you can cook this plant.
How you want to cook broccoli is of course up to you and depends a bit on how quickly you wish to produce this side dish and what end result you are after. The different methods definitely give different end results and some you may prefer over others.
I should add here that we very seldom cook actual broccoli as we prefer to eat ‘broccolini’ at home, which has longer stems than broccoli and we find is more tender to eat.
We can buy both broccolini and broccoli in our local supermarket and it is always broccolini that goes in the basket! We love to oven roast broccolini as we normally eat it together with our Sunday roast lunch, and we just pop it in the oven near the end of the cooking cycle.
This post will concentrate on the normal broccoli we all know that looks like the one in the photo above.
Best way to prepare broccoli
First of all, remove any little leaves on the stalk before cutting. We find that the best way to remove the florets from the broccoli is to cut the broccoli transversely where the florets join the stalk. Then just trim away to suit so that you get some nice flowery heads.
Cut them to make them roughly the same size and make sure there are no really thick stalks.
If there are then just cut in half as the thick stalks will take longer to cook. Many people discard the main stalk, but you do not need to.
You can cut it finely and use it later in a stir fry for example, or cut into disks or lengths and cook with the rest of the broccoli. Be aware though that it will take a bit longer to cook.
So below I will take you through some different ways of cooking broccoli. Choose whichever one is easier for you, or that suits your kitchen equipment.
1. How to cook broccoli in the Instant Pot
OK, so we have now finally invested in an instant pot, after realizing that our old fashioned pressure cookers were no longer with us, and my wife had a sudden Brazilian beans craving. So I thought why not use it to cook some broccoli. And wow, what a success it was!
This was only the second time I had tried the Instant Pot but it proved itself as a great kitchen tool. So very easy to use and clean.
So all you do is put a cup of water and a pinch of salt in the Instant Pot pan, and the broccoli in the steaming basket.
Turn the Instant Pot to steam and cook for 2,5 minutes. Then release the pressure using the vent steam release valve (being careful not to burn yourself) and hey presto, your broccoli is ready! What could be easier?
So this is effectively steaming broccoli, but if you do not have an Instant Pot you can easily steam on the stove:
2. How to pan steam broccoli
The easiest way is to use a steamer basket in a saucepan, but if you do not have one, as we don’t, you can just use a sieve instead.
Fill a pan with 1 inch of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, place the broccoli in the sieve and place this on top. Add some freshly grated garlic for your steamed broccoli seasoning, and cover the pan. Boil the water for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of the florets.
The result is pretty much the same as using the Instant Pot – when you steam the broccoli you get a wonderful green colour in the flowers and it looks very attractive on the plate.
Then the next way of cooking broccoli, also another way of steaming it effectively, is to cook in the microwave.
3. How to steam broccoli in the microwave
You can do this in a number of ways – in a glass bowl with cling film on top for example. But I found a totally ingenious way of doing it which was to use my plastic microwave rice cooker. This apparatus has a container with holes in the bottom inside a container which contains a thin layer of water. Perfect for steaming vegetables.
You just put the broccoli in the inner container, fill the outer container with about a cup of lightly salted water and put in the microwave on full for about 4-5 minutes. The result? Perfectly steamed broccoli.
All the above methods effectively steam the broccoli which I think is probably the best way to cook it. Steaming helps to maximise the nutrients in the vegetable.
The next method is really a mixture of boiling and steaming.
4. How to boil broccoli
Put 1”-2” boiling water in a saucepan, add a pinch of salt and add the broccoli. Cover the pan and simmer on a low heat.
How long does broccoli take to boil?
Well, this depends a little bit on how well you like it done. I tend to boil it for 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks.
When finished remove the broccoli with a sieve to stop it cooking further.
The broccoli should be a nice bright green colour when finished. Be careful not to overcook the broccoli as if you do boiled broccoli can easily become mushy and unattractive.
The next methods are all really aimed at cooking the broccoli with hot air rather than steam. The result is very different to steamed broccoli as it produces a crispier result, which some people prefer.
5. How to oven roast broccoli
This is an easy way to cook broccoli if you are making a Sunday roast for example. You can just throw it in the oven 15 minutes before you are about to serve up and that’s it! This is actually our favourite way of cooking broccolini.
Very simple: put broccoli in a roasting pan, cover with ground garlic and olive oil and put in the oven at 180 C for 15 minutes. What could be easier?
Roasted broccoli may not be quite as attractive as steamed broccoli. The roasting process does give a bit of a charred effect to the florets, but it does make them quite crispy and adds a nutty taste to the broccoli.
6. How to sauté Broccoli
Sautéing Broccoli gives a similar result to roasting in the oven. Get the pan nice and hot (preferably a cast iron skillet), add some sesame oil and ground garlic and cook for about 10-15 minutes, turning regularly.
After about 5 minutes add about 3 tbsp of water to the pan, just to add some steam to the cooking process. If you like you can add some parmesan at the end for some taste variation.
7. How to cook Broccoli in the air fryer
If you are lucky enough to have an air fryer, you may wish to try this method of cooking broccoli.
So simple and a great way to get some crispy crunchy broccoli florets.
Add the florets to the basket and cook for 13-15 minutes at 180C, depending on thickness of the stalks. Give the basket a shake half way through.
The result will be a bit drier than the other methods, but some people prefer it like this, especially if they are trying to avoid consuming any kind of oils.
Which is the best way to cook broccoli?
Well, this is entirely up to you and depends on your preferences and what utensils you have in the kitchen.
Although we love to cook broccolini in the oven, we think that steaming broccoli probably gives the healthiest results, as it is a better way of retaining the nutrients in the broccoli.
Let us know how you get on and which method you prefer in the comments section below!