Broccoli appears on our table at least once a week. Guests subjected to this are often surprised at how much they like it so I must be doing something right with this recipe. The secret to my success is that I peel the stems and I don't overcook the broccoli...and I usually add some sort of other flavor to complement the flavor of the broccoli and add some unexpected note to the familiar vegetable.
Broccoli can be prepared ahead by this method. Refrigerated steamed broccoli can be reheated by tossing in a skillet on medium high with a scant amount of oil or butter, or by means of a brief session in the microwave. Steamed broccoli can also be served at room temperature or chilled and used in a salad.Ingredients
- 1 medium bunch broccoli* - about 9 ounces
- 2 - 4 tablespoons fresh herbs (optional), minced (suggestions: tarragon, thyme, dill, basil, oregano)
- 2 green onions (optional), chopped
- 2 or3 cloves garlic, (optional), minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
- Balsamic vinegar to taste (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Trim broccoli: cut the last 1/4" from the end of the stalks and use a paring knife to trim any gnarly stumps or little branches from the stalks.
2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the tough outer skin from the stalks, starting at the base of the flower and going to the end of the stalks. Some larger stalks have a fairly thick skin and may need two passes of the peeler. (You can tell when you got it all when the inner flesh of the stalk is exposed -- it has a softer wet-green look, with no fibers visible and a texture like a cut radish or potato.)
3. Cut the broccoli pieces crosswise into three pieces: the flower and two pieces of stalk about 2 1/2 - 3" long. Divide the flowers from each other as necessary and halve or quarter the stalk pieces lengthwise so that the pieces are all about the same size (for uniform cooking).
4. Place the broccoli in a steamer basket in a pan with about 3/4" of rapidly boiling water. Cover tightly and steam for 5 min.
5. Remove broccoli to a bowl. Add any of the optional ingredients you are using and toss with tongs briefly to mix.
6. Season to taste and allow to rest, partially covered, for a few minutes.
Optional garnishes should be of a contrasting color: roasted sesame seeds, minced white parts of green onion, etc.
VARIATION: Sometimes I steam another vegetable along with the broccoli. Yellow onion, sliced thick, works particularly well. Carrot sticks, radish halves, daikon sticks, summer squash all work well. Cut the additional vegetable to pieces about the same size as the broccoli pieces, or smaller.
*Tip: When selecting broccoli, test for freshness by pressing the flowers with your thumb...they should be briskly resistant, not flaccid or soft. If possible, select bunches with full, sturdy looking stalks, not trimmed "crowns" or with skinny stalks. Trust me on this.