Forget any negative childhood associations. With the proper touch, broccoli tastes sweet and nutty, and those clusters of vivid green florets make a beautiful addition to any fall dinner. Here, we’ve gathered our best tips on choosing and prepping broccoli, plus delicious ways to prepare them from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen.
Look for: Broccoli heads should have tightly clustered florets that are dark green or purplish, with no signs of yellowing. Stalks should be firm, look fresh, and have healthy green leaves; they should not be tough or dry or starting to turn white. Store broccoli in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Prep tips: Trim leaves from broccoli stalks only if they look discolored, and peel or trim away any tough portions on the bottom of the stalks. Cut across the forked branchlets to make bite-sized florets, then cut the broccoli stalks into manageable spears. The florets will cook more quickly than the stalks, so add them to the cooking vessel 2 or 3 minutes later.
Uses: Broccoli is known for its versatility and ease of cooking, which makes it work in all kinds of dishes. It can be eaten raw with dips, tossed in a salad or slaw, roasted and topped with cheese, stirred into pasta, pureed into soup, and sauteed, steamed or stir-fried until tender-crisp.
Broccoli Pesto: In a food processor, combine blanched broccoli florets, parsley, basil, toasted pine nuts and grated Parmesan; pulse a few times. Add olive oil and pulse until smooth. Thin with a little water if desired; season with salt and pepper. Toss with drained cooked pasta.
Orecchiette with Broccoli and Sausage: Saute diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil. Add crumbled Italian sausage and a pinch of red pepper flakes; cook until sausage is browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add steamed broccoli florets. Toss with cooked and drained orecchiette pasta; serve with plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Roasted Broccoli with Crispy Panko: Toss broccoli florets with olive oil, salt and pepper; place on a baking sheet. Roast at 450ºF, stirring once, until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Saute panko in olive oil until crispy. Toss broccoli with panko and lemon zest.
Quick Broccoli Soup: Saute diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil until softened. Add broccoli and chicken stock; cook until broccoli is tender. Let cool, then puree in a blender. Season generously with salt and pepper; top with shredded cheddar if desired.