Broccoli makes a great addition to almost any meal, whether it's stirred into the main dish or served as a side. Follow these tips to cook perfect broccoli every time. To get started, pick out a broccoli recipe such as this Nutty Broccoli, which has a bit of citrusy sweetness and the pleasant crunch of walnuts.
Use these tips to select and store fresh broccoli:
-- Although broccoli is available year-round, the peak season is from October to April.
-- Look for broccoli that has a deep, bright green color with an abundance of tightly closed florets. The stalks should be fairly smooth with no signs of shriveling.
-- To store fresh broccoli, place it in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Steaming fresh broccoli allows it to retain much of its nutrients during cooking. Here's how to steam broccoli to tender perfection.
Step 1: Cut the broccoli into florets
-- Remove the florets by cutting above the thick stalk at the base of the stem of each floret.
-- Cut larger florets in half.
Using a steamer basket helps steam the broccoli rather than boil it (which causes the broccoli to lose some flavor and nutrients). The steamer basket has feet that sit on the bottom of the pan so the food doesn't touch the water while it's steaming.
-- After the steamer basket is in place, add enough tap water to the saucepan so the water level is just below the bottom of the basket.
-- Bring water to boiling.
After the water is boiling, add the cut florets to the steamer basket.
-- Place the cover on the saucepan.
-- Reduce the heat so the water simmers and steam forms in the pan.
-- Steam the broccoli for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.
Tip: Be sure to keep the pan covered while the broccoli is steaming to ensure even cooking.