The Wonders of Broccoli

The Wonders of Broccoli

Everything you need to know to get the most out of this crunchy kitchen staple .

All vegetables are packed with healthful nutrients. But experts agree: broccoli deserves a spot at the top of the heap. The crunchy floret contains good-for-you phytonutrients as well as vitamins A and C, antioxidants. This wondrous green also contains fiber—2.4 grams in a single cup (raw, chopped)—that helps keep blood sugars level and your digestive system humming. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight.  

Even better, broccoli is easy to squeeze into your diet. Toss it into any pasta dish, a stir-fry, or your morning eggs. It’s also a simple addition to any soup or dip. Here’s a quick guide to buying, storing, preparing, and serving this wonder food.

Buy right

Choose bunches with firm stalks and tight clusters of small florets that are dark green—even purplish. Steer clear of florets that are enlarged, yellowish, or wilted, which means the broccoli is not fresh. Avoid bunches with thick, tough stems. And don’t buy broccoli that is soft or slippery, which indicates spoiling.

Use it quickly

Keep your fresh broccoli unwashed in a plastic bag stored in the refrigerator. Use it within three days after purchasing it. Though it can last longer, broccoli increasingly loses its vitamin content as it is stored.

Retain the vitamins

Rinse the broccoli in cool running water just before preparing it. Avoid cutting up the broccoli beforehand since doing so can reduce the vitamin content. When cooking, use the least amount of water and the shortest cooking time possible. Some cooks like to save the water used to boil broccoli to make soup.

Prepare it properly

Trim the very end of the stalk and cut the rest, which is edible and tasty, into pieces the size you prefer. How to eat it is up to you: broccoli can be boiled, steamed, microwaved, or sautéed. To avoid overcooking, which will decrease its vivid green color and crisp-tender appeal, cook it just until a fork can pierce the pieces. (Cooking times will vary depending on how big the florets are; try checking at four to five minutes.)

Serve it!

Broccoli’s versatility lends it to several ways of serving. Try it plain or with a small amount of butter, salad dressing, or lemon juice. You can also serve it raw, cut into bite-size pieces, with a dip such as hummus or ranch dressing. Add chopped broccoli to salads, soups, quiches, casseroles, stir-fries, or pasta.