Broccoli is not the most inspiring vegetable out there. Most of us only know one way to cook it—boil it up and serve it on the side. We’re familiar with that same old broccoli taste that rarely varies.
Can you do anything about that taste, though? How can you make broccoli taste good?
To make broccoli taste good, clean it thoroughly, cut into florets, blanch it to remove the bitterness, season it with salt, spices, and herbs, then serve it.
Broccoli can be a very beneficial part of your diet. Some even classify it as a ‘superfood’. As Ansley Hill explains in Healthline:
“Broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable that may enhance your health in a variety of ways, such as by reducing inflammation, improving blood sugar control, boosting immunity and promoting heart health.”
And if you properly prep your broccoli and season it, you can make this veggie more than just a side dish.
Properly Prepare Your Broccoli
First things first, before you cook your broccoli, make sure it has been properly cleaned! According to WikiHow, there are three main ways to clean broccoli:
- Wash broccoli with water. Leave it to soak in a clean sink for 5-10 minutes;
- Using a vinegar solution. Fill a large bowl with three parts water and one-part white vinegar and soak for 15-20 minutes;
- Saltwater to remove cabbage worms. Soak in a cold brine solution, add salt, and leave for 15-30 minutes. If there are worms, they should float to the top.
All three methods advise rinsing off the florets at the end with cold water and rubbing off dirt with your fingers.
‘Blanching’ Removes Bitterness Better than Steaming
Blanching, a cooking technique for scalding fruits and vegetables in boiling water, then quickly removing them from it and plunging them in an ice water bath (or a bowl of cold water), is surprisingly effective at removing broccoli’s bitterness.
Why is that, exactly?
Tara Carson of Livestrong explains that blanching is one of the best ways to remove bitterness from broccoli and is more effective than steaming.
Here’s how to properly blanch your broccoli:
- Cut it up into smaller florets (stems and peel can be removed), then boil them for 1-3 minutes.
- Quickly move the broccoli over to a bowl of cold water (you can even add ice) and leave them there for another three minutes.
- Dry off your broccoli and remove as much moisture as possible. You can use a paper towel.
And now you can prepare your broccoli how you wish. Carson recommends a citrus sauce to further neutralize any bitterness.Typically, broccoli is blanched before being frozen for future use (check “How Can I Keep My Broccoli Tasting Nice?” below).
Season Your Broccoli!
The easiest and most obvious way to enhance the flavor of broccoli is to let some butter melt on top while it’s still hot and add some salt, but there are hundreds of spices and herbs that work wonders with broccoli.
Sonja Overhiser recommends kosher salt and freshly ground pepper whether you roast it, steam it, sauté it, grill it, or cook it in an instant pot.
Rhea Parson of One Green Planet states that “basil, chives, curry, dill, garlic, ginger, marjoram, oregano, red pepper flakes, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme” pair best with broccoli, as well as broccolini and broccoli rabe.
Megan Collins of Pinch Spice Market lists many of the same spices and herbs, but also includes cayenne pepper, Sichuan pepper, and summer savory.
Jessica of Pretty Providence opines that the best way to season broccoli is while you steam it.
They suggest putting broccoli in a bowl with thyme, garlic salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and water. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and steam it in the microwave for four minutes and then sit for a further three minutes.
Bear in mind that there are several different types of broccoli, all with varying degrees of bitterness and taste. And so, you may find that you need to use different condiments to different degrees.
How Can I Keep My Broccoli Tasting Nice?
If you’ve cooked up some great broccoli, typically the best way to keep it tasting good is by freezing it. You can refrigerate or freeze both cooked and raw broccoli.
According to Eat By Date, fresh broccoli can be refrigerated for 7-14 days while cooked broccoli lasts for 7-9 days. (Do note though, this also depends on its condition before purchase.)
When it comes to freezing, Eat By Date states that broccoli can last 6-8 months frozen, however, Corey Williams of MyRecipes states that it can be stored for up to 12 months.
Either way, both recommend blanching your broccoli before putting it in an air-tight, freezer-safe container in your freezer.
Can You Still Eat Yellow Broccoli?
Just because broccoli has passed its best doesn’t mean it can’t be salvaged. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), when broccoli starts turning yellow, it means that it has passed its ‘peak freshness’ and has started to lose nutrients.
Eric Samuelson of Eat Like No One Else explains that it can be eaten but will be very bitter and you probably will not want to eat it. Similarly, PBH recommends eating broccoli before it turns yellow by keeping it fresh in a plastic bag in the fridge and eating it within 3-5 days.
If you want to attempt eating yellow-ish broccoli, Samuelson recommends cutting off yellow parts if you can and notes that broccoli stalks can still be used, but if they feel soft, they probably won’t be good.
But, if you don’t feel like taking the risk, it might be wise just to get rid of your broccoli and buy a fresh one.
Maia of Lucky Belly notes the risks of eating expired broccoli:
“Consuming a large portion may cause food poisoning with symptoms that include mild cramps, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, broccoli can get contaminated with pathogenic bacteria that can cause serious illness.”
So, sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
When Is the Best Time to Eat Broccoli?
Remember above we said that broccoli is ‘nutrient-rich’? Well, that’s because it’s loaded with vitamins. But as explained in Delish, broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables) also carry a lot of ‘insoluble fiber’ which can be difficult for our bodies to digest.
Because of this, it is also recommended that you avoid broccoli before bed, and it is more ideal for lunchtime otherwise it might keep you up all night.
Conclusion: What Are The Best Ways to Make Broccoli Taste Nice?
If you want your broccoli to taste awesome, follow these steps:
- Prepare your broccoli correctly by making sure it’s nice and clean by soaking it and rinsing off any dirt. If your broccoli is yellow, best to get a fresh one!
- Cut up your broccoli into small florets and remove the leaves (and if you want, also the stalk).
- (Optional) Blanch it to get rid of some bitterness (you can also add citrus sauce after).
- Steam or boil your broccoli, then season it with some of the herbs and spices listed above.
Steam your broccoli with your chosen herbs and spices in a covered bowl with water in the microwave for a few minutes.
- Serve it for lunch.