Tuesday 10: Dress Up Your Broccoli


I feel like I need to apologize to broccoli.

Whenever I do one of my presentations on Paleo, the example I use for my soul-sucking, pre-Paleo food is always “chicken breast with steamed broccoli.”

When I was a “dieter,” I ate a lot of chicken breast and broccoli. I mean: a lot. Like, truckloads full. I distinctly remember asking a sales clerk once if a Teflon pan was really, really non-stick because “I need to be able to put a plain chicken breast in there without any oil to cook it.”

Oh, dear.

And the broccoli didn’t fare much better. It was insulted by being steamed, garlic-salted, and tossed with Smart Balance margarine. (Good Heavens, to Betsy Ross; that is terrible!)

Now, of course, I know better! I know that the right amount of healthy fats goes a long way toward making everything taste ever-so-much better, while keeping me fit, healthy, happy, and not feeling deprived.

Sorry, broccoli! Please forgive me!

To atone for my previous bullying of naturally sweet, friendly, nutritious, delicious broccoli, here are 10 ways you can dress it up. Tasty broccoli is the new black!

Let me be clear on one thing: I think steaming broccoli is a kickass way to get it started. Steamed broccoli is the food equivalent of perfectly broken-in jeans… not paparazzi-worthy on their own, but a comfortable start to an outfit that gives you the confidence to strut across the room. Let your broccoli strut, people!

For all of these ideas, start with broccoli that’s steamed or blanched until it’s just tender. If you need some guidance on that, here’s a post about how I steam-sauté my vegges, and here’s another on blanching.


sesame oil + toasted sesame seeds + scallions
Toast some sesame seeds in a dry skillet, then drizzle steamed broccoli with a little sesame oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and top with thinly-sliced green tops from scallions.


extra-virgin olive oil +sundried tomatoes +black olives
Thinly slice the sundried tomatoes and olives, toss with the steamed broccoli, then drizzle the whole shebang with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


ghee + curry powder + ghee + raisins
Heat some ghee (clarified butter; how-to here) in a skillet, then fry the curry powder and raisins in it for a few seconds. Toss with the steamed broccoli.


ghee + chives
Heat some ghee in a skillet, toss in the broccoli, then sprinkle in dried or fresh chives. Season with salt and pepper.


extra virgin olive oil + Penzeys Greek Seasoning
Put the olive oil and Penzeys Greek Seasoning in a skillet and warm over very low heat. Toss with steamed broccoli.



coconut oil + garlic + cumin +chopped nuts
Heat the coconut oil in a skillet, then add cumin, garlic, and chopped nuts — almonds or pistachios are recommended. Cook over medium heat until the nuts are toasty, then toss with steamed broccoli.


extra-virgin olive oil + garlic + crushed red pepper flakes + lemon juice
Put the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a skillet and warm over very low heat. Toss with steamed broccoli, then finish with a spritz of fresh lemon juice.


coconut oil + dried cranberries + chopped walnuts + orange zest
Heat the coconut oil in a skillet, then add dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and thyme. Cook over medium heat until the nuts are toasty, then toss with steamed broccoli and finish with a dusting of orange zest.


 extra-virgin olive oil + thyme + garlic + lemon juice + lemon zest
Put the olive oil, thyme, and garlic in a skillet and warm over very low heat. Toss with steamed broccoli, then finish with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a little zest.


extra-virgin olive oil + almond flour “bread crumbs”
Make “bread crumbs:” Mix 1 tablespoon almond flour with 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, then sprinkle it with a smidgen of salt. Sauté in a pan over medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until it forms toasty brown crumbs, about 1 minute. Toss steamed broccoli with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with the bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.

Turn it up to 11: Broccoli Confit

I like my vegetables very well done, so I’m intrigued by this recipe for 2-hour broccoli. It’s essentially a broccoli confit, a.k.a., slow-cooked in fat and seasonings. Dave likes his veggies crisp (harrumph), so I haven’t tried this mush-tastic broccoli yet. But it’s on my list.

Print this recipe
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  • Heather V. says:

    I will be making that broccoli ASAP. looks sooo good.

  • aseafish says:

    I love it with a large, okay very large, mound of Paleo mayonnaise. I tend to make it with egg yolks and lemon juice and can’t get enough of the stuff. Simple tastes here, I guess.

  • Julie says:

    omg, broccoli confit?!

    while i love anything and everything confit, if you don’t feel like using a cup of oil, you have to try my long-cooked broccoli recipe, it’s freakin’ awesome: http://crankingkitchen.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/long-cooked-broccoli/

    btw, really with i could have come to see you and the gang in estes park. blast!

  • Annie says:

    Tossed with a bit of olive of coconut oil and seasonings and roasted. Steamed broccoli just seems so….wet. My 10-year old daughter would eat roasted broccoli every day. Love your season ideas!

  • Kim says:

    Love broccoli, and so many other vegetables roasted in the oven.I also like it stir fried, or I blanch it then sauteed asian style with some sambal oleek extra garlic (still use soy, haven’t been able to find coconut aminos), and will add in red pepper strips and some black sesame seeds for a quick stir in the pan. I also like broccoli in a salad and broccoli slaw. And of course, steamed and slathered in butter. And as much as I like these little green trees, I never was overly fond of it in soup form.

  • saretta says:

    They all sound so good, will try them all!

  • Hilah says:

    Oh, Mel! Thanks for the image of you asking the clerk about Teflon. 🙂 I like my broccoli sauteed in bacon fat with onions, so that 2-hour broccoli is intriguing. I love all these ideas, though.

  • I feel like this was written for me as I have no less than 6 crowns of broccoli in my fridge at all times. It’s the easiest “in a pinch” veg out there! I feel embarrassed to say I ate it last night just simply steamed with some lemon now 😉

  • HannahMontana says:

    Roasted. Every single day. I even roast it from frozen – I can’t get enough broccoli –

  • Lydia says:


  • Carina says:

    This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I have a TON of broccoli and last night I steamed some with some baked chicken meatballs and as good as that was, it will get old really fast with my Costco size amount.
    I thought I had been creative by using garlic and bacon fat but WOW there are so many options and I am looking forward to giving 7 and 8 a try this week. I recently discovered a love for dried cranberries so will start with that one. Thank you!!

  • Kelly R says:

    I have a confession: I don’t like broccoli. In a previous life, I enjoyed raw broccoli covered in ranch, but I have yet to truly enjoy cooked broccoli since going paleo. Sometimes I roast broccoli to change things up, but mostly I just try to avoid it.

    Thanks for the post! I feel like these combinations could bring me some broccoli love. Truly, what isn’t amazing with cranberries, walnuts and orange zest?

  • Annette says:

    Ate out twice yesterday because of Veterns Day, married to one, and I am so broccoli out. I felt it was “safe” to order out. Can ‘t wait to take leftovers and give them A Twist!

  • Tarable says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am loving broccoli right now but have been just eating it plain. I’ve been longing for some new way to eat it and now I have TEN! Woohoo!

  • TriCiCi says:

    Tossed in bacon fat and roasted. Mmm…crispy bacony broccoli goodness.

  • AustinGirl says:

    I’m on the oven-roasted bandwagon too. I can eat about a cup of broccoli, max, as a serving if I cook it on my stove. If I roast it in the oven? I can eat more than one head of it with ease. Sooo good!

  • Ooooh–easy paleo breadcrumbs. I’m going to need that version of broccoli soon. I will probably look just like that little hammie while I eat it, too!

  • This can transfer to so many other veggies: green beans, tomatoes, eggplant,ect! been experimenting with different spices lately.

    Have you ever used walnut oil?

  • Michelle says:

    My husband is going to be mad at you! You have given me several more ways to pile his plate up with “green stuff”

  • TSL says:

    If you ever head down under to Sydney, Jared Ingersoll at Danks Street Depot does a fantastic slow braised broccoli with organic scrambled eggs. Well worth a visit!

  • Holly says:

    We are totally sharing a wavelength this week. Because of Thanksgiving coming up and all of the cooking (and eating!) associated with that, Garrett and I both decided that for this week we just wanted to buckle down and focus on just plain nourishing food. No crazy new recipes to test, just food that would treat our bodies good (I totally stole your sweet potato hack last night while throwing some chicken in the crock pot…BRILLIANT!)

    Anyway, we have a giant Costco bag of broccoli, and while I’m happy to be just having some “simple broccoli” this week and not worrying too much about it, these little reminders will definitely inspire me. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I am “all kitchen, all the time” right now, testing recipes for Well Fed, and it’s wearing me out. Being an almost full-time cook is HARD! Yeesh!

      Our meals vary from cheater recipes like the crockpot deal from the other day to “try this; I don’t think it really works” meals… but I hit on a few Well Fed 2 winners this week that I’m pretty happy about.

      I was really excited about cooking for Thanksgiving… until I realized I’m going to be in the kitchen all day and night tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday. HA!

  • Nicole Franklin says:

    Mel, I love love love your site and cookbook — Well Fed was my first cookbook purchase as a paleo virgin — but the best way I’ve had broccoli is Civilized Caveman George’s grilled broccoli with almond butter sauce. I roasted mine in sesame oil last night since it was pouring rain and it was perhaps even better than grilling it…

    That being said, I literally utilize one of your recipes or a tip I learned from you every single time I cook. Thank you!

  • Jill says:

    Roasted with coarse salt, fresh ground pepper, and lemon juice….it’s like candy!

  • tirzahrene says:

    Roasted with bagna cauda. Bagna cauda itself isn’t Whole30, including butter and some white wine, but I bet you could do a paleo version…

  • Marisa H says:

    Thank you so much, I made the 2 hour broccoli with half bacon fat and half olive oil. It was like broccoli-flavored fatty fat. Divine!!

  • I love that you love mushy veggies! I never understood the appeal of “tender-crisp”. Generally, it’s either totally raw, or nice and soft. 🙂

    But broccoli I will take just about any way it comes. I’m totally ok with pretty plain broccoli, but these look like fun.

  • Julie in Houston says:

    You always have what I’m looking for. Steamed brocolli tonight and didn’t want the hubby to say….”not again.” 🙂

  • Kirsten says:

    I just had broccoli tonight! I tossed it with some coconut oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and roasted it at 425 for 15 minutes or so, then sprinkled it with parmesan cheese.

  • Superdace says:

    Awesome been looking for more ways to spice up my standard go toos. So far your book and another Paleo Indulgences. Have gone so well for me.

    Cant wait for Well Fed 2

  • Brandy says:

    Thanks Mel, I am loving these Tuesday 10 posts.

  • I can’t get over just roasting it in my truffle olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic salt. When I’m done that obsession I’ll try one of these…

  • tams says:

    i love broccoli on the whole30. i throw it in with strips of leftover steak to make a great stirfry. huge fan of it with evoo, garlic, and red chili flakes. last night i used coconut oil, cumin, turmeric, garlic/ginger paste, coriander, and chili powder to cook diced chicken breast- then i added cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli. saute all together and add some cooked crushed tomato to make a great sauce!

  • Rolien says:

    Just tried the broccoli, garlic, lemon and chiliflakes and totally loved it! That lemonflavour is awsome.

    Also made the mayonaise for the first time. Beautiful texture, but i think it´s a little to salty for my taste, although i followed the recipe. I used the himalayan salt. Would that make a difference? Or is it just me?

    Anyway, thanks for your blog and all the great recipes! I’m having a great time reading and learning!

    Best wishes from the Netherlands!

    • Mel says:

      Glad you liked the broccoli!

      If you used coarse salt, that might explain it. The amount of salt won’t affect the emulsion, so you can cut back to 1/4 teaspoon next time and see if you like that better.

      Best wishes back from ATX!

  • Dive Girl says:

    I love drizzling roasted walnut oil over the top of steamed broccoli with salt and pepper yum!!! Or, roasted broccoli with olive oil or truffle oil is always a go to for me as well!

  • Bec says:

    These look amazing Mel!

    My favourite is a tandoori brocolli dish that I had at Saffron Indian restaurant in Shanghai, it’s in the French Consession if anyone is wondering. It was amazing!! That dish would turn me vegetarian.

  • OMG I can’t BELIEVE “with Lizard Sauce” is not #1 on this list!! Incredible. My second favorite way is tossed with Spicy Secret Sauce. Also it’s fantastic with diced Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage. Seriously, I moan over my dressed up broccoli.

  • ellen says:

    Thanks so much. Broccoli is sort of boring to me, and I think this is going to help tons!

  • Mary Seltzer says:

    Any way to do broccoli with garlic and anchovy paste? Thanks.

    • Heat a few teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 cloves crushed garlic and 1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste; cook until both are fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Add steamed broccoli and toss with two wooden spoons until it’s coated and hot. Taste and add salt and pepper, if it needs it.

  • madridmom says:

    our family favorite way to serve broccoli is with homemade hollandaise sauce. (egg yolk, lemon juice and butter). Do you know if I used clarified butter if the sauce would be whole 30 compliant?.