Dear Home Ec 101,
A while ago you posted a recipe for fettucini alfredo and suggested adding steamed broccoli. So, maybe it makes me look an idiot and maybe it doesn’t, but is there a proper way to steam broccoli?
Stymied by Steam
While you don’t need any fancy tools to steam vegetables, I do recommend having a vegetable steamer. They are fairly small, versatile, and have a timer that can take some of the stress out of coordinating cook times. I use an oh-so-fancy Black and Decker Flavor Scenter Steamer Deluxe. It’s a long name for a small appliance that boils water and costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $30. I have used mine fairly often for four years, so I consider it a worthy investment. To steam broccoli in a steamer simply follow the handy dandy directions in the booklet, or if you lost that: put water in the bottom, put the basket over the water, load your vegetables, put the lid on securely, and set the timer. Since you can see the vegetables cooking, it’s easy to turn it off as soon as the florets turn the bright green that says, “Hey, I’m done!”
Since we’re flexible here at Home Ec 101, here’s how you steam broccoli in the microwave. Put the florets, those are the cut pieces that look like little trees, in a microwave safe dish. Add about an inch of water, cover tightly, and microwave on high for five minutes or until bright green. Of course cook times vary because not all microwaves are created equal, but for two cups of broccoli you should be in the right neighborhood.
What, you don’t have a microwave, either? You’re killing me. Don’t worry, this is also a piece of cake on the stove. Add about an inch of water to a sauce pan, add your broccoli, place the pan over medium heat, and cover tightly. Bring the water to a boil and allow to cook until, wait for it, the broccoli turns bright green. You are surprised, aren’t you?
OK, so your basic steamed broccoli isn’t always exciting. If you want to add some punch that keeps people from reaching for the salt shaker, heat a saute pan or frying pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil and add any herbs or seasoning that are included or are complementary to your main dish. For example, if you are having dilled salmon consider adding a splash of lemon juice and some dill weed. If your main dish has Asian spices stir in soy or terriyaki sauce with garlic or onion. Then, simply toss your broccoli in the heated butter or olive oil until well coated. All the little buds provide excellent nooks and crannies that soak up flavor. For those scared of a little fat, it is important to remember that Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble and the presence of fat actually improves their absorption rate. Broccoli is loaded with both vitamins A & K.