Broccoli is undoubtedly one of the healthiest vegetables anyone can come across and its uses are fairly versatile too. Broccoli can be used steamed as a side dish, thrown into stir fries, included in cheesy pasta dishes or added raw to salads. Some of its most prominent health benefits include lowering cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, promoting antioxidant activity and detoxification of the body. Additionally, including broccoli in the diet can also help prevent certain types of cancers, provide digestive support, and improve cardiovascular health. Broccoli can also address improved vision and skin care for people who choose to eat this vegetable.
To get the most nutritive value out of this green vegetable, look for broccoli bunches that display a uniform color with no prominent brown or yellowing spots. The stem of the broccoli bunch should feel firm and the crown is tight and springy. While broccoli florets are primarily used in recipes, the stem can also be used. In fact, both make nice additions to salads, stews, stir-fries and soups. To store broccoli, keep it in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator until ready to use. When stored properly, broccoli can keep well for up to a week.
How To Select Broccoli
To cook broccoli it is important to wash this vegetable thoroughly. Since its florets are small and tightly packed, it becomes necessary to give broccoli a thorough rinse under running water. A good way to go is to use a vinegar and water solution to soak the broccoli in for a few minutes and then rinse.
After washing, cut or slice the florets and stalks as needed and use as directed.
How To Prepare Broccoli For Cooking
If you are going to use the stalk, cut off its tough bottom end leaving about three inches of stalk below the florets. Cut the stalks into quarters lengthwise and then snip across to cut into smaller pieces.
Trim the broccoli head by cutting each floret separately. Be careful to leave a little stalk on each cluster so that it stays put and does not detach when cooked. If individual florets are relatively large, slice each in half to make smaller pieces. Adjust floret sizes as required by the recipe.
How Long To Boil Broccoli
While broccoli can be prepared in many different ways, boiling it is the most basic and most common way of cooking broccoli. To prepare broccoli by boiling it, put some water in a pan and add some salt. There should be enough water to cover the broccoli completely. Bring water to boil and add in the broccoli stalks. Boil for about two minutes before putting in the florets and boil for a further three minutes. It should be cooked until just tender crisp and not anymore.
After five minutes of boiling, take out stalks and florets from boiling water and place them in a bowl of cold water. This step to boil broccoli to help stop the cooking process and preserves the crisp texture of the broccoli along with its bright color.Putting an abrupt stop to the cooking process is important as broccoli that has been overcooked will neither taste good not look appetizing when used in a dish. Overcooked broccoli will have a dull, limp appearance and will also have lost most of its nutritive value.
Overcooked broccoli will have a dull, limp appearance and will also have lost most of its nutritive value.
In its most simple form boiled broccoli can be seasoned to taste and tossed with a knob of butter to be enjoyed as is or drizzled with balsamic vinegar and served as a side dish.
Is Raw Broccoli Better Than Cooked
While the common consensus may be eating vegetables in their raw state for optimal nutrition and health benefits, in the case of broccoli, cooking it “lightly” seems to enhance its nutritive value and health benefits.
In its raw form broccoli contains 90 % water content, 7% carbs, 3% protein and almost no fat. Of these 100 grams of raw broccoli contains 35 calories, 2.6 grams of fiber, 316 mg potassium and 90 mg of vitamin C. Additionally 100 grams of raw broccoli yields 0.73 mg of iron, 47 mg calcium and 63 micrograms of folate.
Additionally, 100 grams of raw broccoli yields 0.73 mg of iron, 47 mg calcium and 63 micrograms of folate.
When cooked the same quantities of broccoli display a nutrient profile in which certain nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, iron and calcium drop slightly with minimal differences while others like fiber gain from 2.6 mg to 3.3 mg when cooked and folate goes from a mere 63 micrograms to a whopping 108 micrograms. This comparison shows that cooked broccoli can yield way more nutrition in terms of its fiber and folate content than broccoli in its raw form.
The one exception to this is perhaps the drop in vitamin C content that goes from 90 mg in raw broccoli to 65 mg in its cooked form. But even then, cooked broccoli yields more vitamin C than the recommended 100% of your daily needs set at 60 mg. Both the raw and cooked forms of broccoli yield the same amount of calories set at 35 calories per 100 grams.
How To Use Boiled Broccoli
While it may seem bland on its own, boiled broccoli can be made part of dishes that will bring out its unique flavor and crunchy texture. Here are some ways to use boiled broccoli. Boiled broccoli can be enjoyed on its own seasoned with salt and pepper or added into a cold salad. When using boiled broccoli for a cold salad, the step about placing it in cold water becomes very important to preserve texture and color. Enhance the flavor of broccoli by topping it with flavored butter, flavored vinegar, lemon juice or other seasonings such as oregano, tarragon, thyme, basil, dill or caraway.
To serve as a tasty side dish, top boiled broccoli with a cheese sauce and brown under the broiler. To use in a stir-fry, one recommendation is to pre-pair boil broccoli beforehand. Pre-boiling means to boil broccoli for is fairly quick so it can cook at the same pace as other vegetables that take less time to cook.
Pre-boiled broccoli works well served with lemon, garlic and parmesan.
Images used via the creative commons license – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Image one by Mike Mozart – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/15131951341/
Image two by Rex Roof – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rexroof/3315843058/
Image three by Maura Cutbe – https://www.flickr.com/photos/mauroescritor/10247785736/