How to Chop Broccoli

How to Chop Broccoli

Tasty, affordable, always available, and good for you, broccoli is every home cook's dream vegetable. It also takes well to almost any cooking method—blanching, steaming, roasting, sautéing. . . . Whatever your mood, broccoli should be your go-to green. Breaking a head of broccoli into nice bite-size pieces—a daunting task for novice cooks—is key for easy eating as well as even cooking.

1 Rinse, don't soak, broccoli in cool water just before preparing. Remove any leaves attached to the stalk.

2 Trim the stalks off each head, leaving about an inch of stalk below the florets.

3 Peel off the woody, outer layer of the stalks with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

4 Slice the head of the broccoli in half lengthwise.

5 Hold the halves together and slice the head crosswise to the desired size.

6 Finish chopping by cutting each floret off the head in a downward motion, leaving a little stalk on each cluster. If the individual florets are bigger than you'd like, slice them in half lengthwise.

Heads Up

Choose broccoli heads with firm, compact clusters of small florets. The individual flowers that make up the florets should be dark green or have a purple cast to them. Reject heads on which the florets are yellowish-green, enlarged, or opened, or if the stalks are rubbery, limp, or wilted.

Storing and Freezing

For best results, plan to use or freeze fresh broccoli soon after buying it. To store, mist the heads with water, wrap loosely in damp paper towels, slide the bundle into a zip-top bag, and don't seal it. (Fresh broccoli requires air circulation.) It will keep for up to a week.

To freeze, cut washed, raw broccoli into florets and chop the peeled stalks. Steam or blanch the broccoli for one minute to parboil it (this improves its quality after freezing), then plunge it into ice water, drain, and seal in airtight containers or closed zip-top bags with all the air pressed out. This cooked frozen broccoli can be added to soups or stir-fries at the last minute, or it can be thawed and heated in the microwave for a quick supper side dish.

Cooking Fresh Broccoli

Cook only what you'll eat right away. Given that fresh broccoli cooks up in just a few minutes, there is no point in making enough for leftovers, which get mushy and are not as flavorful. If you need to save time, wash and cut it in advance. If you do have leftovers, cooked broccoli should be sealed in an airtight container or closed zip-top bag and kept in the refrigerator for no more than two days.