Broccoli: The Tree of Life

Cooking How-To,Dinner,Healthy,How-To,Ingredient
December 20, 2012

High in vitamin C, beta carotene and antioxidants, broccoli is in full force in January.

Head of Broccoli
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn
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If broccoli were a tree, it would be an oak, guardian of the vegetable forest. Since the Roman Empire, it has served legions of Italians as a dependable and surprisingly versatile element of the culinary landscape.

Why then, stateside, is it so thoroughly misunderstood? Mostly, bad preparation. If there’s one way to make a lifelong enemy of broccoli, it’s by cooking it into mushy, army-green oblivion—a sight many of us are still trying to erase from our childhood memories.

One of the best ways to keep it crisp is a quick steam (3 to 4 minutes) until it’s barely fork tender and a bright, emerald green. Then you’re ready for everything from stir-fries to pasta dishes to casseroles.

Still not convinced? Try cheese and broccoli, a great combo that creates some great gateway dishes for finicky children and spouses. Also, try roasting it, which brings out bold, caramelized flavors that can convert non-believers into lifelong fans.

Story by Jim Myers, a food writer in Nashville, Tenn.

Easy, made from scratch recipe for Broccoli and Chicken casserole.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

A wide, shallow baking dish, such as a gratin or casserole, provides plenty of space for the crumbs on top of this homey chicken dish.

An easy Roasted Broccoli, Red Pepper and Onion vegetarian side dish recipe from Relish magazine.

Roasted Broccoli, Red Pepper and Onion

The combination of roasted broccoli, sweet pepper and onion works well as a side dish with grilled fish, poultry or meat.

Easy broccoli and baby portabella vegetarian recipe by Relish magazine.

Broccoli and Baby Bellas

A last minute splash of balsamic gives the broccoli and mushrooms a vinegary edge.