In the doldrums of January, it can feel most natural to eat like the weather: beige foods inside to match the shades of taupe outside. But inevitably, when that little voice inside my head cries out for something green, there is one vegetable that comes to mind first: broccoli.
Maybe because it’s a vegetable many associate with childhood, the Official Green forced upon us when we had appetites for little more than mac and cheese and applesauce. But there’s something so virtuous about it. Eating a big bowl of broccoli, I tell myself, has the power to offset whatever monochromatic meals I’ve knocked back in the name of wintry comforts.
An affordable produce- and freezer-aisle stalwart with quite a long growing season, broccoli is not only accessible across the country, but also remarkably versatile, despite many home cooks’ impulse to simply season and steam it. (Which, let the record show, I love.) Here are a few delightful broccoli preparations for the next time the vitamin-starved voice in your head starts to make some noise.
Stewed: When you’d like something warm and hearty yet verdant and punchy, Ali Slagle’s vegan broccoli and farro stew delivers tenfold, packed with lightly sweet, caramelized broccoli as well as capers, parsley and chile flakes. “Writing my first ever review to say this was probably the best soup I ever had,” one reader wrote in the comments. “Fantastic.”
Broiled: Sohla El-Waylly’s recipe for broccoli with sizzled nuts and dates has an inspired combination of flavors and textures, pairing singed broccoli florets with warmed, lemony dates and cashews, pecans or pepitas (or your favorite nut combination). Serve it as an unexpected side or enjoy it over grains for a vibrant desk lunch. Or broil broccoli — as well as chickpeas and kale — for tossing with linguine, as Sarah Copeland does.
Puréed: Blended broccoli has range, whether as a sauce to dress other ingredients or as the main event. When puréed with nuts, garlic and mint, as in Genevieve Ko’s broccoli-walnut pesto pasta, the broccoli remains bright but undetectable, ideal for kiddos with a bias against tree-shaped vegetables. Or, for a luxurious change of pace, blend it with cheese, butter and cream for Ham El-Waylly’s lively, broccoli-rich take on pommes aligot.