How to Cook Fresh Broccoli to Keep Its Nutrients

Just 1/2 cup of broccoli contains less than 25 calories.
Image Credit: Leren Lu/Photodisc/GettyImages

If cruciferous vegetables held a popularity contest, broccoli would be in with the in-crowd — with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and the various cabbages trying desperately to fit in.

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For optimum nutrition, cut broccoli into florets and enjoy raw as a snack or in a salad. Alternatively, there are many ways are available to cook broccoli, but none of them should involve cooking the vegetable until it becomes a mushy, Army-green replica of its former self.

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Cooked broccoli should remain bright green and yield to the bite. In that form it retains vital nutrients, including iron, calcium, folic acid, vitamin C and beta carotene, according to the University of Illinois Extension. These are necessary antioxidants that help this veggie stay popular with parents and healthy eaters.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife

  • Cutting board

  • Large pot with lid

  • Steamer basket

  • Tongs

  • Plate

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

  • Lemon wedges

  • Wok

  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil

  • Serving fork

  • Serving spoon

  • 5 cups broccoli florets

How to Steam Broccoli

  1. Cut and peel the woody broccoli stems and trim the florets into uniform pieces.
  2. Fill a pot 1-inch full of water and fit the steamer basket inside. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Place broccoli evenly around the basket once the water reaches a rolling boil.
  4. Fit the lid onto the pot and steam broccoli for 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and replace it so it partially covers the pot. Cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes or until the broccoli is crisp-tender.
  6. Lift the cooked florets out of the pot with tongs and place on a plate. Season with salt and pepper, and generously squeeze fresh lemon juice over the dish.

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How to Stir-Fry Broccoli

  1. Pour the oil into a wok and heat on medium-high.
  2. Combine preferred seasonings, such as soy sauce, ginger or garlic, and whisk vigorously until blended.
  3. Add broccoli and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp-tender, according to Epicurious.
  4. Add any additional ingredients or vegetables that don't require as much cooking time as the woody broccoli.
  5. Pour seasonings into the stir-fry mix for 1 to 2 more minutes until the sauce is reduced.

How to Roast Broccoli

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Chop broccoli into florets, toss in a light oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast broccoli in the oven for about 16 to 20 minutes, according to Simply Recipes.
  4. Remove and toss with parmesan and black pepper if desired.

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How to Microwave Broccoli

  1. Add a small amount of water to the bottom of a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Spread broccoli evenly around the dish and covering with plastic wrap.
  3. Microwave in 1-minute increments until broccoli is crisp-tender.

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