10 ways with broccoli

10 ways with broccoli

What to cook: a practice in generating ideas

I was making dinner the other day, as one does... chopping an onion, chopping some veggies...

And it suddenly hit me that most nights I start exactly like this: chop & sauté an onion, add some veggies. Almost always I start with these two steps. 

But the meals are rarely the same: the next few steps take every dinner off in completely different directions... like that famous 'Sliding Doors' movie moment.

This could mean taking similar ingredients (say broccoli & garlic) in to different directions: say a stir-fry, a curry or a pasta sauce.

Or, even more broadly, it could mean taking the basic concept of a 'pot of sautéed veggies' (any veggies, really!) into different directions as a whole:

  • add tomato & spices for an Indian-style curry
  • add coconut milk and a spice paste for a Thai style curry
  • add tomato and cheese on top for a pasta sauce
  • add broth and blitz for a smooth soup
  • add broth and small pasta shapes for a minestrone-style chunky soup
  • add beans (and optional sausage) for a French-style cassoulet
  • add lentils and spices for a dhal-style pot
  • add spices, greens and chickpeas for a Moroccan style stew

Etc, etc, ... can you see the patterns here?


And as some of you have told me that coming up with ideas is sometimes a challenge, here are 10 ways with, say, a head of broccoli, to help you get started.


1. broccoli garlic & ginger stir fry

Start with a garlic & ginger base layer. Add chillies if you like and spring onions if you have them (or even plain onions, if you like them crunchy, as they won't have much time to cook to go sweet and soft)

Add the broccoli florets and stir fry on a high heat until bright green and browning in places. I like adding carrot strips (use a potato peeler) or grated beetroot. Serve with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of soy sauce and a handful of herbs.


2. roasted broccoli with soy sauce and sesame

Mix soy sauce, olive oil and honey, use to coat broccoli florets and roast until charred at the edges. Serve with scattered sesame seeds and a dash of lemon.


3. broccoli, lemon & parmesan (as a soup or as a pasta sauce)

What is says on the tin. Broccoli flavoured with lemon zest/juice and parmesan (or other hard salty cheese).


4. broccoli Thai style (green coconut curry)

Basically, broccoli (or any greens) simmered with coconut milk and a spice paste. Like this one here.

Finish off with fish/soy sauce, fresh herbs and a good squeeze of lemon (or lime). You could add chicken, seafood or tofu. And some nut butter for extra creaminess. Use leftover curry paste or something from a jar for a super quick dinner. Add extra liquid for a soup experience, or let the liquid reduce to a thicker curry sauce.


5. broccoli pizza (variation of cauliflower pizza)

A variation of this cauliflower pizza (if you don't mind your pizza crust in a shade of green).


6. broccoli & seeds falafel

A variation of the no-fry veggie fritters (any dry-ish grated veggies can be used, including broccoli).

Eat with chickpea or bean hummus, or the miso tahini dressing above.


7. broccoli & avocado

A variation of the pairing of clean & creamy.

The combination works either chopped (serve steamed/roast/fried broccoli with sliced avocado and a dressing) or blitzed: mash or blitz avocado & flavourings to make a creamy sauce to serve with the broccoli, or blitz both together (with flavourings again, obviously) and serve with pasta. Good flavourings: garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, mustard, parsley, fresh coriander (cilantro).


8. broccoli & anchovy pasta sauce

This is a staple in our house (my other half loves anchovy anything!).

Slow cook broccoli, anchovies and garlic in olive until very soft, then mash with a potato masher and serve with pasta. I like adding bits of fresh tomato if I have any, and a handful of parsley.


9. steamed broccoli with miso tahini dressing

I'm not a huge fan of boiled or steamed veggies, but I make an exception for this one: the creamy umami dressing beautifully contrasts with the crisp clean taste of the steamed florets.

For the sauce whisk together tahini (sesame paste) with a bit of hot water to make it smooth, and add the flavourings to taste: miso paste, soy sauce, honey, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Keep tasting until the balance of salty, sweet and acidic seems right to you. Also tastes great on roasted broccoli or cauliflower, other greens, or on a crisp salad.


10. broccoli & pulses

I like throwing a can of beans into a pot of sautéed veggies. (If I have been good with planning I might have some cooked-from-dry beans ready, but I'm not a good planner usually.)

Add some bits of sausage and some herbs you have a French-style cassoulet style pot. Add tomato and chickpeas and you have a Moroccan pot.


To make this list I searched for references in my head... all the kinds of broccoli meals I have eaten or come across that were memorable enough to lodge themselves in my food memory.

Obviously I can't remember the 'how to' details for all of these. Some dishes on that list I make regularly, so I don't have to think about it. But some I dragged from the back of my memory and I had to do a little confirmatory search:

I literally type in 'broccoli avocado' and see what happens. Then scroll through a few options and have a look at a couple to find what best matches my memory or any other tasty idea I might stumble over!


Next time you are stuck with a head of broccoli (or anything else) but zero ideas try the 'memories method' for yourself.

Don't forget: To have memories to refer back to, you have to make them first. 

That means bringing some curiosity and awareness to everything you cook and eat: What can you taste? What do you like (and why)? What not so much?

That's all it takes. Not more, not less.


Categories: COOK, LIBRARY


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