Who knew Italian broccoli could ever taste so good?! I’m not kidding either, this Italian-style recipe is the best way way to cook fresh broccoli. You’ll be amazed at how easy and delicious this recipe tastes.
The key to this recipe as with so many of my Italian recipes is that the ingredients are fresh and simple. But the added bonus is that this broccoli recipe not only tastes great but is healthy since it is sauteed Italian-style with olive oil and garlic.
To make this Italian broccoli recipe, you only need three ingredients, 4 if you use Romano cheese.
- Fresh broccoli
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Romano cheese (optional)
This simple and easy recipe takes less than 20 minutes including prep time. However, the key is to not overcook the broccoli.
If you don’t want to use regular broccoli, you can substitute it with what is known as broccoli rabe or broccolini. Check out my article to learn what is broccolini and how to cook it.
Prepare the broccoli for sautéing
Start by washing the fresh broccoli. I find it best to first cut off the broccoli into medium size heads then run under water to clean, or soak in a bowl of water to rinse off any dirt.
You can use the broccoli stalks by shaving off and discarding the hard sides. Then chop up the remaining stalks into small cubes if you want to use as much as possible. Otherwise, discard or put in the compost.
Pat dry the broccoli parts so it will not spatter when adding it to the olive oil.
Cook the broccoli with olive oil and garlic
Heat approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil in a medium frying pan over low heat. Add in at least two cloves of chopped garlic and saute for a few minutes until you can smell the aroma of the garlic.
Do not let the garlic burn. If it does, toss out and start over.
If you prefer to slice them you can also do that. Do not mince the garlic for this recipe.
Add the broccoli to the olive oil and garlic. Add a small amount of water, about 2 or 3 Tablespoons. The water helps the broccoli cook in the steam. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
Check the sauteed broccoli. When it is bright green and still firm, remove from the heat. You don’t want the broccoli looking wilted, but rather firm yet easily pierced with a fork.
Top the broccoli with Romano cheese
To take your Italian broccoli to the next level, sprinkle some Romano cheese on top. It is delicious! Serve warm.
What type of Olive Oil for Italian Broccoli
Knowing what type of olive oil to use for cooking your Italian-style broccoli can be the difference between boring tasteless broccoli vs broccoli that is full of flavor and delicious.
When making broccoli with garlic and oil, use extra virgin olive oil. First cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is even better with a stronger flavor.
Regular cooking olive oil or lite olive oil has very little flavor due to the process used to make it. If you use regular olive oil, your broccoli will be bland and taste like, well… broccoli.
Using Frozen Broccoli vs Fresh Broccoli
Friends, I have good news. You don’t have to use fresh broccoli for Italian-style broccoli! Frozen broccoli is simply more convenient to use. Not only is it already cleaned, it’s also already cut for you, saving you even more prep time.
Didn’t I say I had good news?
Plus, the reality is that using frozen broccoli is often more practical and economical than keeping fresh heads of broccoli on hand. I’ve used bags of frozen broccoli many times, especially when using it with pasta.
However, if you choose to use frozen broccoli, don’t expect the exact same results of using fresh broccoli. Although you still cook the broccoli in the olive oil and garlic, it will not keep the fresh crispness that you will find with fresh broccoli from the garden or grocer.
That’s completely fine. Your Italian broccoli will still taste well, Italian!
As with all my Italian recipes, I strive for easy and simple. If using frozen broccoli is easier for you then go for it! Just make sure to adjust cooking times according to the package instructions.
Italian Broccoli as a Side Dish
This recipe can be used as a side dish to compliment many meals. When you want a healthy side that will provide a good dose of vitamins, look no further than our Italian broccoli.
But it also goes well with pasta, especially in my opinion pasta recipes that do not have a red sauce such as alfredo, or pasta with breadcrumbs or vegetables.
Using Italian broccoli with pasta
You don’t always have to use broccoli as a side dish. Instead, try using this recipe as part of a main pasta dish. You can check out my recipe called pasta with broccoli and garlic (real original name, right?) here, but basically after cooking the broccoli, you just toss in some cooked pasta to the saute pan.
Let’s get on with this recipe!
- frying or saute pan
- 1-2 cups Fresh Chopped Broccoli This amount can vary, and you need to just decide how much you want to make. I'm assuming 1/4 -1/2 cup per person.
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil replace with water if wanted.
- 2 cloves chopped garlic If you are concerned about too much of a garlic flavor, slice the garlic thinly instead of finely chopped.
- Romano cheese For sprinkling on top when serving (optional).
- 2 tbsp water if needed for steam even if using olive oil.
- Clean and cut fresh broccoli into medium size heads (shave off the sides to the stalks and chop them small if you want to use everything).
- Heat 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a medium frying pan over low heat.
- Crush the garlic and chop fine or in thin slices and add to the olive oil.
- Simmer the garlic for a few minutes until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add in the broccoli pieces and cover with lid to trap any steam.
- Add a little bit of water to promote steam and let cook about 5 to 10 minutes or until the broccoli is bright green and is still firm. You don't want overcooked broccoli!
- When done remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve.
- Top with grated Italian Romano cheese for additional flavor if preferred.
- Swap the olive oil with water and steam the vegetables if you don’t want to use olive oil.
- If you are using olive oil, make sure not to overcook the garlic. It will continue to cook while the broccoli is cooking as well.
- Recipe goes great with chicken or beef or pasta.
I hope you enjoy this beautifully simple recipe! Make sure to sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to receive more recipes and cooking tips.
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