How to Soften Broccoli

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Versatile broccoli adds a tender crunch to salads and veggie trays, while working equally well as a warm side dish or supporting ingredient in your favorite casserole. The tough stems cook more slowly than many other vegetables. Steaming the broccoli before you use it softens and improves the texture for fresh use, while also helping the broccoli cook more quickly when it's combined with other vegetables and meats. Include the flavorful stems; peel and cut them into sticks so they soften evenly. Select broccoli with green, tight heads to ensure the best flavor and freshness.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Steamer pot with lid
  • Steamer basket
  • Ice (optional)
  • Wash broccoli in cold, running water. Trim off the tough stems and cut the florets to the desired size.

  • Peel the stems using a vegetable peeler. Cut the length in half, then cut lengthwise into matchstick shapes, about the size and shape of carrot sticks on a typical raw veggie platter.

  • Fill a steamer pot with three inches of water. Place the lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.

  • Place up to 1 pound of broccoli in the steamer basket and replace the lid. Steam the broccoli for five minutes, or until it softens and turns a bright green.

  • Serve the broccoli warm or add it to the remaining ingredients in your preferred recipe. Alternatively, cool the broccoli rapidly in ice water, drain and serve cold with a dip.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add steam-softened broccoli to casseroles or stirfries. Softening the broccoli first allows it to cook more quickly and at the same rate as the other ingredients in a mixed dish.
  • If you don't have a steamer pot or basket, you can boil the broccoli for five minutes to soften it. Boiled broccoli loses more nutrients and the flavor may not be as fresh as steamed. Minimize this effect by using only an inch or two of boiling water in the pot; don't submerge the broccoli.

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