Think beyond cheese sauce for dressing up broccoli

Think beyond cheese sauce for dressing up broccoli

by JIM ROMANOFF for The Associated Press

When it comes to broccoli, there really is flavor beyond cheese sauce.

Not that cheese sauce is 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, yellowing or has a 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.

To achieve the most evenly cooked broccoli, always cut the florets into consistently sized pieces. Since 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 large saucepan filled with about an inch of water. Cover and steam until tender, about 3 to 6 minutes.

To microwave, put about 4 cups of stalks and florets in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water, then cover and microwave on high for 3 to 5 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 F until tender and the bottoms are well browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.

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BROCCOLI WITH LEMON, OLIVE AND CAPER SAUCE

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

4 cups fresh broccoli florets

1 teaspoon butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives

3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

Ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, bring a 1 inch of water to a bowl. Steam the broccoli until tender-crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a serving bowl, cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the oil and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the olives, lemon juice and capers and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the reserved broccoli and season with black pepper. Toss well to coat.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 43 calories; 28 calories from fat (65 percent of total calories); 3 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 67 mg sodium.

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