A member of the cabbage family, broccoli delivers an almost unmatched burst of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Where this leafy green cruciferous vegetable has suffered, however, is through overcooking, which renders the fluffy florets into an insipid mush and turns the sweet, snappy stalks into limp, uninspiring fiber. Broccoli can be eaten raw; if it is cooked, the best option is to steam it for just a few minutes to retain as many nutrients as possible; the next best option is slow cooking, which can produce a flavorsome, robust product over a longer period without boiling the stalks into submission.
Trim the stem of each broccoli head to remove any tough or tainted stalk parts.
Chop the head into florets with a sharp knife.
Rinse thoroughly under cold water.
Place the florets into the slow cooker and add ½ cup of water and a pinch of salt and a sprinkling of pepper.
Place the lid on the cooker and set it to low. Cook for approximately two hours -- until the broccoli stalks are tender but before the florets turn mushy.
Drain thoroughly, toss with butter or drizzle with olive oil if desired, and serve.
- Smaller broccoli leaves are both edible and tasty and can be cooked along with the florets; discard any large leaves attached to the stalk.
- Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda over the broccoli before cooking to stop it from losing its intense green color.
- For a more intense flavor, replace the cooking water with chicken or vegetable stock, cutting back on the amount of salt added accordingly.
- Broccoli’s delicate flavor and texture respond best to light seasoning. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice prior to serving for a tangy, sharp taste, but do not add any acidic ingredients until the cooking is finished, as they taint the broccoli’s color and taste.
- Slow-cooking broccoli, as with other brassica vegetables, speeds up the release of unpleasant sulfurous odors as enzymes are broken down. To eliminate odors, lay a slice of thick bread over the broccoli during cooking and remove before serving.
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