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Four Delicious Ways to Enjoy Broccoli

Broccoli is known as a health food, but doesn’t need to be boring or covered in sauce to make it taste good. Try these healthy recipes.

It’s finally spring and the first crops of the year are starting to peep. Cruciferous vegetables are tolerant of cold weather and their seedlings are resistant to light frost. Broccoli is among the first veggies to emerge in Michigan’s spring. Let’s dig into why you should take advantage of this superfood this spring by exploring its health benefits:

Though citrus fruits are known for their immune-boosting vitamin C content, one cup of broccoli has a whopping 135% of the recommended daily intake for this tissue-repairing powerhouse. It also exceeds the recommendations for vitamin K, necessary for blood clotting and bone building. Broccoli packs in even more bone health benefits as a single cup contains 60 mg of calcium. Moreover, folate is a nutrient necessary to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy and often found in fortified product. Broccoli is an excellent natural source of this folate, packing in 14%of the daily recommended intake in a cup. Finally, broccoli is a great source of fiber, aiding in healthy digestion and helping you leave full after a meal.

Broccoli is known as a health food, but it doesn’t need to be boring or worse yet packed with cheese or cream to make it taste good. We’ve got you covered with four healthy recipes to enjoy as broccoli makes its way in-season:

  • Broccoli Apple Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette
  • One Pan Maple Glazed Salmon with Crispy Broccoli
  • Crispy Broccolini with Citrus Tahini Drizzle
  • Kale and Roasted Broccoli Caesar Salad

Broccoli Apple Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette – Serves 4

Broccoli salad, though it contains the superfood broccoli, is often tossed in mayonnaise-heavy dressing and packs it full of saturated fat. Moreover, many recipes call for bacon which isn’t exactly great for your heart health either. In this recipe, apples replace bacon for the crunch while adding natural sweetness. The tarragon-based dressing adds an interesting complementary flavor to the broccoli, making this recipe a tasty costar alongside a variety of proteins, especially chicken. 

For the salad

Ingredients

  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup shaved almonds
  • 1 small apple, finely diced
  • 4 oz goat cheese

For the dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, diced
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Chop broccoli into small florets.
  2. Prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients in a blender.
  3. Combine all salad ingredients except for goat cheese. Toss in a little dressing 2 tablespoons at a time until salad has reached desired coverage. Top with goat cheese. Enjoy!

One-pan Maple Glazed Salmon with Crispy Broccoli – Serves 4

Whether you’re cooking for a family or just yourself, a one-pan dish is arguably the perfect lazy-day meal besides takeout. This recipe packs in several healthy elements, including omega-3 fatty acids from the glazed salmon and a vitamin C, K and fiber punch from the crispy broccoli. Want to make it a fully balanced healthy meal? Serve it with quinoa or brown rice.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 4 salmon filets
  • 2 heads broccoli, base trimmed, cut into florets
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Instructions

  1. Prepare marinade. In a bowl, whisk soy sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and ginger. Reserve 3 tablespoons of marinade.
  2. In a flat dish, place salmon filets skin side up in the marinade. Allow the fish to marinate for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Start the oven broiler and prepare the broccoli. On a foil-lined sheet pan (do not use parchment paper as it may burn under the broiler) add the broccoli florets and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. On the same sheet pan, place the marinated salmon, skin side down next to the broccoli. Place on top rack under broiler for 7-10 minutes or until salmon has reached desired temperature (125-130 degrees F makes for a nice texture).
  5. Serve salmon and broccoli over brown rice or quinoa if desired. Use the reserved marinade to drizzle over the salmon and broccoli. Top with chopped green onions and serve with a lime wedge.

Crispy Broccolini with Citrus Tahini Drizzle – Serves 4

Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Like broccoli, broccolini is rich in fiber, calcium and vitamins C and K, which are necessary for a wide variety of health functions. More tender and sweeter than traditional broccoli, it makes for an excellent side item with chicken, fish and pasta dishes. The tahini drizzle in this recipe acts as a flavor enhancer and aids the absorption of fat-soluble vitamin K.

For the broccolini

Ingredients

  • 4 bunches broccolini
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup almonds, shaved or slivered
  • 1 lemon, quartered

For the tahini sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1/3 cup tahini (well-stirred)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. ice-cold water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. On a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over broccolini. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place on top rack under the broiler for about 7 minutes or until the florets are lightly charred.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce. In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients except water. Add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water at a time, blending in-between, until you have reached desired consistency for dipping. 
  3. Drizzle each serving with a tablespoon of tahini sauce and 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Kale and Roasted Broccoli Caesar Salad – Serves 1

In this recipe, broccoli joins another member of the cruciferous family, kale, to make a more filling Caesar compared to those made with romaine lettuce. The key to making this recipe especially tasty is to treat the kale to a 15 second massage with olive oil. This TLC makes the kale tender and more easily coated with the Caesar dressing.

Because of the fiber content in the kale and broccoli, this salad will keep you feeling full and satisfied. To make it a complete meal, try this recipe with this light-baked parmesan-breaded chicken.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup broccoli florets
  • 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup kale, stems removed2 Tbsp. of your favorite Caesar dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. croutons, crushed
  • ½ ounce parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved
  • 2 Tbsp. croutons, crushed

Instructions

  1. On a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over broccoli. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place on top rack under the broiler for about 7 minutes or until they are lightly charred. Remove from broiler and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile in a bowl, combine kale with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Massage for about 15 seconds, until kale is tender. Mix in Caesar dressing, half the parmesan cheese and croutons.
  3. Combine broccoli with Caesar and dress with additional Caesar dressing if desired. Top with the rest of parmesan cheese.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. Find out more on AHealthierMichigan.org.

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