When it comes to broccoli, there really is flavor beyond cheese sauce.
Not that cheese sauce is a bad way to mask some of the sulfurous smell and assertive flavor many people object to with this wonderfully healthy vegetable. But there are healthier ways of dressing it up, as in this savory, salty sauce made from olives, capers and lemon juice.
While broccoli is always available, it is at its best late summer through early winter. Look for bunches that are dark green with tightly closed florets. Avoid broccoli that is limp or yellowing, or that has too strong an odor.
Preparation is simple — rinse the broccoli thoroughly and separate the stalks from the florets. The stalks are edible and flavorful, but you should use a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife to remove the tough outer skin.
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To achieve the most evenly cooked broccoli, always cut the florets into consistently sized pieces. Because the tougher stalks take longer to cook, it is best to cut them into even smaller pieces.
To steam, put broccoli in a steamer basket set over a saucepan filled with an inch of water. Cover and steam until tender, three to six minutes.
To microwave, put 4 cups of stalks and florets in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water, then cover and microwave on high for three to five minutes, or until the broccoli is just tender.
Roasting concentrates the flavors. Toss the broccoli in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and roast at 450 degrees until the bottoms are browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.