All about broccoli

Broccoli adds much more than vibrant colour and crunch to our plates! It’s highly nutritious too! Make the most of broccoli with these ideas.

Broccoli is a nutritious choice

  • Both the broccoli stalks and florets are nutritious. They are rich in folate, vitamins C and K, and provide fibre, vitamin A and potassium.
  • Broccoli is part of the Vegetables and Fruit food group in Canada's Food Guide. One Food Guide serving of broccoli is ½ cup (125 mL).
  • When broccoli is soaked in water, it loses vitamins and minerals. To keep the nutrients, rinse (don't soak) and cook it for only a short time in a little water.
  • Broccoli is linked to lowering our risk for many types of cancers as well as heart disease and stroke.

Buying local

Buy fresh Ontario broccoli from June to October when it's in season. Look for the Foodland Ontario logo or ask your store manager when shopping to know if your broccoli is locally grown. When you buy local food, you support farmers so they can keep producing high quality, affordable food we can all enjoy.

Buy it best

Buy fresh broccoli when it's in season (July - October) and plain, frozen broccoli at other times.

Look for tightly closed, deep-green buds with slender, firm stems and crisp leaves. Yellow or flowering buds, wilting leaves and rubbery stems are signs that the broccoli is not fresh.

Try something new

Look for broccolini, (a mix of broccoli and kale), or broccoflower, (a mix of broccoli and cauliflower).  

Tips for storage

  • Store fresh broccoli unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper of the fridge for 3-5 days. Rinsing broccoli before storing makes it spoil faster.
  • Fresh broccoli can be frozen for 12-18 months. The best way to freeze broccoli is to blanch it first. This means that you should cook it for 2-3 minutes in boiling water and then chill it quickly in ice cold water. Drain off the water and then place in freezer bags or airtight containers.

Tips for cooking

  • Before using, briefly rinse and drain broccoli under cool water. Don't soak it. Even if you are using pre-bagged, pre-washed broccoli, it's still a good idea to rinse it. 
  • Trim off the bottoms of the stalks. Peel and cut stalks into even, bite-sized pieces.
  • Cut the florets where the stems attach to the stalk into bite-sized pieces. When all the pieces are the same size, they'll cook evenly.
  • To get the most nutrients and keep the bright-green colour, eat broccoli raw or lightly cooked in a very small amount of water, not boiled. For a tender-crisp broccoli, try:
    • Stir-frying: Check for tenderness as you cook. Once the stem can be pierced with a fork, it's done.
    • Steaming: Steam for 8-15 minutes, or until stems can be pierced with a fork.
    • Microwaving: Cover with ½ cup (125 mL) water and cook for 8-10 minutes on high, or until stems can be pierced with a fork.

5 things to do with broccoli

1. Eggs and broccoli make a great match!

2. Enjoy broccoli raw

  • Enjoy with hummus or yogurt dip.
  • Toss into green salads or coleslaws.
  • Shred florets. Add to pitas or wraps.
  • Mix into bean salads.

3. Try it as a topping or in a dip

  • Spread broccoli over a whole-wheat pita pizza or store-bought pizza crust.
  • Top a baked potato with steamed broccoli and grated cheese.
  • Make a dip. Purée steamed or leftover broccoli with light sour cream and Parmesan cheese. Serve with veggies, whole-wheat pita wedges or crackers.

4. Whip up a superb stir-fry.

  • Cook broccoli with other colourful fresh or frozen veggies and lean protein (trimmed beef, tofu or skinless chicken).
  • Season with sesame oil, sesame seeds, hoisin sauce or low-sodium soy sauce.

Try: Sweet Chili Tofu Stir-Fry

5. Add to pasta sauces, soups and curries.

  • Add to tomato sauces and serve over spaghetti or in lasagna.
  • Make a pot of broccoli-cheddar soup.
  • Add broccoli near the end of cooking homemade or low-sodium canned vegetable soup.
  • Add broccoli to curries.

Recipes using broccoli:

Stove-Top Broccoli and Mushroom Quiche

Oriental Coleslaw with Broccoli

Green Meatballs

Oriental-Style Chicken, Veggie and Cashew Salad 

You may also be interested in:

Vegetable and Fruit Challenge: Are you getting enough each day?

All about leafy vegetables

What you need to know about a vegetarian eating plan

Last Update – October 9, 2016

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.