Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable derived from the Italian words “piccoli bracci,” meaning “little arms.” Broccoli is high in vitamins C, A and K, and although some of the nutrients are lost when broccoli is cooked, it is still considered a healthy food option–especially when served fresh, as opposed to frozen or canned. Broccoli cooking times vary depending on the consistency you prefer, but the shorter you cook it, the more nutrients will remain.
Cut the broccoli into small pieces–the smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook. Place about 2 inches of water into a small saucepan and heat until it boils. Turn the heat on the stovetop to medium and place the broccoli directly in the boiling water. It’s okay if the water does not completely cover the broccoli. Cover the pot and continue boiling for five minutes. Check the broccoli to see if it is tender and bright green–if it is still not tender, cook for an additional two to three minutes. Strain the broccoli immediately and eat hot. The longer you leave the broccoli in the water, the more soggy and mushy it will become. Boiling broccoli is the least nutritious way to cook it, as many of the nutrients will drain out in the water. Boil broccoli in the microwave by filling a small casserole dish with water, placing the raw broccoli pieces inside, covering the dish with saran wrap and heating for three to five minutes.
Steaming broccoli is a more nutritious option than boiling it, but it requires an additional tool: a steamer. A steamer is a wooden or metal cylinder with a lid that fits on top of a pot so it sits several inches above the boiling water. You can purchase a steamer at your local kitchen store or department store. Cut the broccoli into small or medium pieces–the smaller you cut the broccoli, the faster it will cook. Fill a medium-sized pot halfway with water and heat on high until it boils. Fill the steamer with broccoli, place it inside of the pot so it is not touching the water, and cover the steamer. Steam for three to five minutes. Check to see if the broccoli is bright green and tender–if not, steam for an additional two to three minutes. Remove from the heat and eat warm.
Stir-frying broccoli is a popular way to cook the vegetable in Chinese cuisine. You will need a wok in order to stir-fry broccoli correctly, although you can also cook the broccoli in a large frying pan if you can get the pan very hot. Heat the wok on high and place 1 tbsp. of peanut oil into the wok. When the wok is hot enough, the oil will be very runny, but not smoking. Throw a drop of water on the wok to see if the pot is hot enough–if it sizzles, the wok is ready. Throw the broccoli into the wok and tip it back and forth to move the broccoli around in the oil. The broccoli will turn bright green almost immediately. As soon as all of the broccoli is bright green, which will take approximately one to two minutes, remove the broccoli and eat it while it’s hot. Stir-frying broccoli will have the crunchiest result, even when it is cooked completely, so stir-frying is a great way to avoid soggy broccoli.
References and ResourcesStart Cooking: Cook Broccoli
All-American Chinese Cookbook: Stir-Fry Broccoli