Like Batman and Robin, broccoli and carrots are a powerful duo. Packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, they take any meal from zero to superhero. For an easy side dish, roast, boil, steam or bake them together — you can even cook broccoli and carrots on the grill.
Healthy Steamed Veggies
These two cooking techniques involve water, and neither requires the addition of oil. Both are good choices if you are watching your calorie intake. However, steaming retains more of the water-soluble nutrients that can be leached out when vegetables are boiled, according to the University of Florida.
The easiest way to steam broccoli and carrots is in a steamer basket placed in a pot sized correctly to hold it. Put about an inch of water in the pot, and set it on the stove to boil.
Next, cut your veggies into bite-sized pieces. Carrots take a little longer to cook than broccoli, so you have a few choices for getting them both to the same measure of doneness at the same time:
- Cut the carrots smaller than the broccoli.
- Use stackable steamer baskets and place the carrots in the lower steamer and the broccoli in the upper steamer basket. That way, you can remove the broccoli and allow the carrots to steam a little longer.
- Put the carrots in the steamer basket first, let them steam a few minutes, then add the broccoli on top of them.
Once the water in the pan is boiling, place your veggies in the steamer basket and put the basket in the pot. Cover the pot with a lid, and reduce the heat to medium-low.
The ideal texture for steamed vegetables is just tender, but some people prefer their veggies softer. The UT Institute of Technology recommends steaming until the vegetables are just tender and brightly colored — approximately five to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Check the doneness by spearing the vegetables with a fork. If it's not to your desired doneness, keep steaming and check again every few minutes.
Read more: 15 Healthy 10-Minute Dinner Ideas
Boiled Just Right
When boiling carrots and broccoli, crisp-tender is also the goal. Boiling veggies for too long makes them mushy and flavorless and can drastically deplete their nutritional value. As with steaming, cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Cut the carrots slightly smaller than the broccoli, or plan to add the broccoli after the carrots.
When your water is boiling, gently place the veggies in the water. Don't leave them unattended — leave them just a little too long and they're not going to be very appealing. Just a few minutes is typically enough to get that desired crisp-tender texture.
You may need to fish one out and test it with your fork. If it's not done, try again in another minute or two. When they're done, pour them into a colander and drain.
Once you've steamed or boiled your veggies, you can toss them in a little olive oil with herbs, spices and lemon juice, or even eat them plain.
Roasting and Grilling
While you've probably had many a roasted red pepper, roasted carrots and broccoli aren't as common, but they are equally delicious — and simple to make.
Pull out a large baking tray and preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate broccoli into florets, and cut carrots into 3/4-inch pieces. Place them in a large bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Then spread them out evenly on your baking tray.
As with other cooking methods, carrots cook more slowly. You can cook them both at once for the same amount of time, but your broccoli will be roasty while your carrots will be firm. If you want your carrots to cook more, put them in the oven for 15 minutes, then add your broccoli and cook for another 15 to 25 minutes.
Broccoli and carrots on the grill are an uncommon sight, but why not? Almost any vegetable can be grilled to perfection. The key here is to avoid cutting the pieces too small or they'll fall through the grates.
Carrots can be grilled whole, and instead of separating the broccoli florets, leave them in larger clusters. Nicholls State University suggests putting vegetables in a grill basket over a medium flame. Cook for five minutes, turning them one or two times.
Toss them in some olive oil, salt and pepper, and place them on the grill. When they develop a slightly charred appearance on one side, turn them so they can develop the same color all the way around.
Whole carrots can be a little difficult just because they vary in size so much. Look for carrots with the greens still attached. These tend to be slimmer, without so much of a taper between the top and bottom. If you're using loose carrots, choose some that are more uniform in size or cut them in half and take the skinnier ends off the grill while the fatter ends continue to cook.