For the last few years I have made it a focus of mine to eat as many different vegetables as possible that are available at the Farmers Market or grocery store. One of the most inexpensive vegetables and frequently on sale is broccoli. I have not always loved eating broccoli. I hate uncooked broccoli on crudité platters where you get lots of little green pieces stuck in your teeth. Don’t get me started on mushy over cooked broccoli, I just can’t eat it.
Perfectly cooked, tender crisp with a bright green color and sweet taste is exactly what I want when eating broccoli. It took some time for me to find a method of cooking broccoli that was easy and tasty.
I cook my vegetables as soon as possible after I come home from the farmers market or store. I plan my time to shop and then prep and cook veggies to keep for later use in the fridge. When you plan to cook ahead on the weekends or a day off it will save you time during busy days and help you eat better. You can also save money because you will not be throwing out vegetables that you did not get to cook before they went bad. I don’t know about you but I had a habit of buying vegetables because they looked good or were on sale but did not always get to them in time and threw them out. Now with a list and a plan this never happens.
My favorite cooking method for broccoli is to blanche the vegetables in boiling, well salted water and then dump the tender crisp cooked broccoli in an ice bath to halt cooking.
The vegetables stay tender crisp and bright green. Perfect for eating cold right out of the fridge, adding to stir fry’s, pizza, soup or a quick sauté as a side dish.
Why should you blanche broccoli in a pot of salted boiling water? There is a little science to it.
Plain water is an osmotically unbalanced cooking medium. Since there’s nothing dissolved in it, it draws substances dissolved in the plant cell fluids like salts and sugar out of the cells, and the water itself flows into the cells, diluting what’s left. When salt is dissolved in boiling water, the fluids inside and outside are more balanced so that less of the vegetable’s substance is drawn out into the water. This means your broccoli will come out seasoned and still retaining most of the healthy compounds. If you plunge the broccoli in iced water after cooking the cold water will halting the cooking process and your broccoli with maintain its lovely bright green color.
I tested how much salt to use several times adjusting a little each time and I found that 1 tablespoon per gallon works best for broccoli. Cook 1lb of veggies per 1 gallon of water. You can use this ratio with asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower or green beans.
When you are ready to prepare dinner during the week all you will need to do is add the broccoli to your pan and warm up. For this side dish I have used organic broccoli sautéed with oven roasted tomatoes packed in olive oil, garlic and herbs. Here is my recipe for oven roasted tomatoes. For this recipe I used oven roasted grape tomatoes but they are prepared the same way as roma tomatoes.
- For the pre-cooked broccoli-
- 1 lb Broccoli cut into florets
- 1 gallon water
- 1 tbs salt
- For Broccoli and Oven Roasted Sweet Tomato preparation-
- 1 lb pre-cooked broccoli
- 2 tbs oven roasted sweet tomatoes with garlic, good olive oil and herbs or sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil.
- To blanche broccoli-
- Prepare a water bath with 50% ice and 50% cold water.
- In a large pot over high heat on your stove top boil 1 gallon of water and 1 tablespoon salt.
- Wash and cut broccoli into florets. I keep the stems on and cut them into pieces to cook with the florets or leave them attached to the florets. I enjoy the stems as much as the tops.
- Add broccoli to boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.
- Drain immediately and plunge into ice water to cool.
- Stir broccoli around in ice water for 30 seconds and drain in a colander.
- Do not leave vegetables in ice bath for too long as they will begin to absorb the water and get soggy.
- Store in a container in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Cooking instructions for Broccoli with Oven Roasted Sweet Tomatoes
- Heat a large skillet on your stove top over medium heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons oven roasted tomatoes with olive oil to the pan and shake to coat.
- Add pre-cooked broccoli and sauté for 1 minute.
- Serve immediately.