At any given point, I probably have a head of broccoli in my fridge. You, too? If that’s the case, you can bust out this versatile veggie side dish with minimal work. I get it going as I prep other parts of my dinner.
Want a gold star in thrift and food waste prevention? Even (or especially if) your broccoli is looking tired and floppy, it shines in this preparation, and you use the whole head—stem and all.
The secret is chopping it into little pieces so it cooks quickly and becomes tender.
How to Prep the Broccoli
Is knife prep something you loathe? You’re off the hook: Accuracy does not count here! While you’re chopping the broccoli into small bits, it’s totally fine—and even preferable—that some are larger than others. That way, some get nice and soft in the skillet, while others still maintain a slight toothiness.
Here's how to prep the broccoli:
- Start by rinsing the broccoli.
- Then lop off the thick part of the stem from the flowering top. Trim off the woody bottom of the stem (half an inch to an inch) and discard it. Then use a vegetable peeler to peel the fibrous outside from the stem. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect.
- Then, dice the trimmed stem into bits about the size of peas.
- Push the stem pieces aside and then tackle the florets. This part is somewhat like making cauliflower rice; just cut off the florets and they’ll fall apart on their own. Slice any remaining smaller stems crosswise.
Now you’re ready to cook!
Use Fresh Broccoli
“Oh, I can skip all that work by using packaged frozen chopped broccoli,” you may be thinking. Sorry, but with this recipe, you can’t. It won’t get the nice hint of char that makes it special.
Mix It up With Other Veggies
Any member of the cabbage family (cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale) is awesome in this. I’ll use whatever I have around, usually two or three of the aforementioned brassicas. Just try to have them chopped up in about the same size.
I save cauliflower cores and put them to use here, as well as the stems of kale and collard greens. Sometimes I use the leafy greens in other recipes, but I’ll save the stems for this, as they keep for about a week in the fridge. Unlike the broccoli stems, you don’t need to peel them. Just slice them thinly across the grain. They cook up sweet, not bitter.
Doubling the Recipe
Yes, you can double this. But count on it taking longer to cook, as there will be more volume in the pan. I like to make a large batch and eat leftovers all week.
Freezing Skillet Broccoli
You can freeze this! I like to pack it into quart-size freezer bags, press out the air, seal them, and freeze them flat for easy storage.
How to Season Skillet Broccoli
Since I usually serve this with other highly flavored things, I don’t usually season this with much else other than salt or pepper. Mild chili flakes are nice, though. If you like, you can sauté a little minced onion or garlic before adding the broccoli.
What to Serve With Sautéed Broccoli
More Great Skillet Veggies
- The Best Way to Boil Asparagus
- Stir Fried Green Beans with Ginger and Onions
- Easy Sautéed Spinach
- Easy Swiss Chard
- Red Flannel Hash
Charred Skillet Broccoli
If you’re comfortable prepping as you work, you can start cooking the first half of your chopped-up broccoli as you continue chopping the rest of it, adding it to the hot skillet as you go.
- 1 medium head broccoli (about 1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Prep the broccoli:
Rinse the broccoli. Trim off and discard the woody lower part of the stem (likely an inch or half an inch). Cut the remaining stem off from the head.
With a vegetable peeler, peel the outer layers of the stem off and discard them. Cut the tender centers into coins across the grain, then chop those up into little bits. Shred up the blossom ends of the broccoli. You’re aiming for pieces between the size of a pea and an almond.
Cook the broccoli:
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or less. Add the olive oil; when it shimmers, add the broccoli. Stir it around every minute or so. Season generously with salt.
After 5 minutes of cooking, reduce the heat incrementally so the broccoli does not burn. You’ll end at medium heat. Some bits will get charred and brown, while others steam and become soft and sweet. This is exactly what you want.
After about 10 total minutes of cooking, your broccoli will be ready. The volume will have reduced by about half, and there will not be any raw pieces of broccoli left.
Season and serve:
Taste the broccoli, and, if needed, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Leftovers will keep about 5 days in the refrigerator, or 6 months in the freezer.