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How to Cook Broccoli Leaves

Broccoli is often dubbed a ‘superfood’ due to its dense nutritional profile Below is a 101 on how to prepare and enjoy broccoli, as well as some delicious ways to eat it., but it isn’t the easiest vegetable to prepare. Not only that, but it comes in multiple varieties! There is also purple sprouting broccoli, as well as tender stem.

How to prepare broccoli

The traditional broccoli has a very thick stalk and florets (broccoli branches) at the top. To prepare your broccoli you must chop off the thick stalk, and cut the florets into pieces. Size depends on your preference, but medium to small cooks quicker and is easier to eat! They should look like very small trees.

To boil broccoli: Prepare the broccoli by breaking apart the florets (the top bits) and cutting off the thick stalk. Add to a pan of boiling water. To prevent over-cooking, they really only need 1-3 minutes in boiling water. Remove from the water and put in cold water if you’re not eating immediately. This will stop the cooking process.

To steam broccoli: Prepare the broccoli such as above – just breaking off the florets. Heat a pan of boiling water and wait until it’s boiling, before adding the broccoli in the steamer over the top.  Steam for around 5 minutes. Avoid steaming for longer than 7-8 minutes, as the broccoli will over-cook.

To roast broccoli: Prepare the broccoli florets, and cut them into smaller spaces. Spread over a roasting tray, making sure the broccoli pieces aren’t overlapping. Drizzle in olive oil, sprinkle with chilli flakes and salt and pepper and roast at 180c for 15-20 minutes. Remove when crisp!

How to prepare purple sprouting broccoli

Unlike the traditional broccoli, you can eat the stalk of purple sprouting broccoli if you wish, as well as the leaves. Some people find them too fibrous, in which case just use the top of the broccoli and dispose of the stalk.

To boil purple sprouting broccoli: Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the broccoli either whole or with the stem chopped off (depending on preference). Boil for 3-5 minutes and remove from the water. Eat immediately or let cool for a cold salad.

To steam purple sprouting broccoli: Prepare broccoli to your preference and then add to a steamer over boiling water. Steam for 3-6 minutes (depending on size of broccoli) and then remove and eat.

To roast purple sprouting broccoli: It is best to remove the thickest part of the stalk for roasting. Add to a roasting tray with olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes, ensuring they aren’t overlapping. Roast at 180c for 15-20 minutes.

How to prepare tender stem broccoli

Tenderstem broccoli is very similar to purple sprouting, except it’s green! You can prepare this broccoli in exactly the same way as above.


How to prepare frozen broccoli

Lots of supermarkets do bags of pre chopped vegetables including broccoli. One of the benefits of this is longevity – you can store it much longer in the freezer than a fresh broccoli. The easiest way to prepare frozen broccoli is to boil it. You could also sauté it in a pan with a few teaspoons of olive oil.


How to prepare broccoli for kids

The best way to prepare broccoli for kids is steaming or boiling, so it’ll be softer. It may be worth boiling or steaming a little longer so the veg is as soft as it can be. Your children might not automatically be a fan, so try mixing it with other foods (like pesto pasta) and let them try all the different types of broccoli. They may prefer tenderstem to traditional.

You can see other recipes for kids here.

How to prepare broccoli the night before

To save some time when you’re cooking, you can prepare your florets up to 2 days in advance. Cut them into your desired pieces and store in an airlock bag in the fridge. Then all you need to do is cook them! You can also prepare broccoli the night before to be eaten in a cold salad the night before, or preserve it to be used in a broccoli soup.

How to prepare broccoli soup

Most broccoli recipes will advise to steam or boil the broccoli florets in the same way you would do if you were going to eat it as it is, but it would be a good idea to cut the florets smaller so they are easier to blend into a soup.

Here is a very simple broccoli soup recipe:

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 garlic clove
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
200g broccoli florets
1 chopped onion

Method: Heat the oil, onions and garlic together. Pour in the veg stock, along with the broccoli florets and wait until they go tender in the boiling stock. Add the chilli flakes and season to taste. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth. Sprinkle chilli flakes on top and enough with warm brown bread.

How to prepare broccoli for a stir-fry

Tenderstem, purple sprouting and tradition broccoli all work really well in a stir-fry. You can actually fry the broccoli together with your other vegetables, rather than needing to cook separately.

Here is a very simple broccoli stir-fry recipe:

1 red onion
150g purple sprouting broccoli
1 red pepper
1 courgette
Bag of beansprouts
Rice noodles
Sesame seeds
1 tbsp ginger
1 garlic glove
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp honey

Method: Put the rice noodles on to cook as per the packet instructions. Mix together the honey, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Cut up your vegetables into small pieces, keeping the broccoli whole or cutting off the stalk. Heat sesame oil or normal oil in a pan and add the onion. Once softening add the other vegetables and stir fry until going soft – add the honey, ginger, garlic and soy sauce mix. Serve on the noodles.

If you’re wondering when broccoli is in season, click here.