If you are looking for the perfect side dish for your next meal, you may want to consider steamed broccoli. Steamed vegetables of any variety are a delicious, healthy addition to any meal. The important thing with steamed vegetables, especially broccoli, is to cook them just the right amount of time. If you do not cook your broccoli long enough, it will retain too much of its crunch and bitter flavor. If you steam your broccoli for too long, it will become soggy and unpalatable. So, how can you make the perfect steamed broccoli?
Steaming Broccoli in a Pan
You do not need any fancy equipment to steam your broccoli. Start by filling a large frying pan with ¼ of an inch of water. Bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Once the water is boiling, add up to two pounds of broccoli. Cover it and allow it to steam until it has reached your desired tenderness. This can take anywhere from three minutes for crisp yet tender broccoli, up to eight minutes for softer, completely cooked broccoli.
Steaming Broccoli in a Steaming Basket
Some people prefer to steam their vegetables in a tool designed for steaming vegetables known as a steamer basket. A steamer basket is intended to be placed on top of a standard pot of simmering water and filled with broccoli or other desired vegetables. Start by filling a pot with about an inch of water and bringing it to a boil. Put your steamer basket on top and fill it with your broccoli. Cover the pot. Once again, this will take about three minutes to yield crisp, yet tender broccoli, and up to eight minutes for softer, completely cooked broccoli.
Steaming Broccoli in the Microwave
While microwave steaming can be tricky to get just right, it is an easy, quick, and convenient method if you do not mind the possibility that your broccoli may not come out to your exact desired texture. Start by washing your broccoli as you would typically, but make sure that it does not dry first. In a large bowl, let your broccoli sit for a few minutes. You should notice some water pooling up in the bottom of the bowl. If there is still no water in the bottom of the bowl after several minutes, add about a tablespoon of water to it. Cover your bowl of broccoli with a lid or plate that is microwave safe. Set the microwave to run for 1 minute on high power. Test the broccoli to see how steamed it is, and continue cooking in 30-second increments until it has reached your desired level of doneness. All microwaves are different, so there is no exact time that you should expect it to be done at. You may also need to drain your broccoli when it is done, depending on your microwave and how much water was in the bowl.
The Health Benefits of Steamed Vegetables
The nutrients in vegetables can be destroyed by certain high-heat cooking methods. Steaming your broccoli or other vegetables allows you to soften them without losing too much of their nutritional goodness. Steaming also allows you to keep much of the desirable flavor and texture of your vegetables. When you steam your vegetables in a steaming basket as opposed to directly in water, you also help the vegetables to retain vitamins that are water-soluble like vitamin C and B vitamins.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are also high in cancer-fighting compounds and are more likely to retain these compounds when steamed at low temperatures.
Finally, when you steam vegetables, you help them to retain their flavor. This means they taste good even if you do not add high calorie or high-fat sauces and butter. Adding these dense calorie toppings can negate the health benefits of otherwise nutritionally dense vegetables. A single teaspoon of butter can add 45 calories and 5 grams of fat to your otherwise healthy side dish. Steamed vegetables taste best with calorie-free squeezes of citrus or seasoning.
Even if you do choose to top your steamed broccoli with gobs of melted cheese (who can resist an indulgence every once in a while?) you are still getting higher concentrations of vitamins and antioxidants when you steam your vegetables instead of cooking them in direct contact with heat, so you can still feel healthy, wealthy, and wise.