Broccoli is a controversial vegetable in that many people dislike its taste. It also happens to be one of the most nutritious vegetables and is widely available year-round. One way to make broccoli more palatable to people who find its flavor unpleasant is to add seasonings that will enhance it. Some of the best herbs and spices for broccoli are:
The savory, herbaceous flavor profile of broccoli is enhanced by garlic’s earthy umami properties. You will see the two paired in classic Chinese stir-fried dishes like beef and broccoli, but you can get the same flavor pairing more simply by frying or roasting broccoli in garlic oil. Garlic is commonly used to make broccoli’s flavor more enjoyable.
As a popular all-purpose seasoning that pairs well with most savory foods, black pepper complements broccoli perfectly. The citrus notes and mild heat of freshly ground black pepper make it the perfect seasoning for brightening up the flavor of lightly steamed, roasted or stir-fried broccoli. If you like spicy food, you will want to be extra generous with the black pepper. Black pepper also pairs well with the other seasonings on this list.
Ginger may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about broccoli seasonings, but it works well. It is used in many Asian-style dishes that feature broccoli. The sweetness and heat of ginger work especially well with broccoli when other savory flavors like garlic and oyster sauce are also added to the mix.
Many Asian preparations for leafy greens include oyster sauce as its sweetness helps to cut the bitterness that they sometimes have. Oyster sauce works just as well for broccoli as it does for bok choy or ong choy. Use it as a part of a stir-fried dish like beef and broccoli or on broccoli by itself.
Cayenne pepper can enhance just about any savory dish and a few sweet ones as well. Add it to stir-fried broccoli or use it in a dip for raw broccoli. If you are trying to limit your calorie intake, you can sprinkle it over steamed broccoli to give some extra flavor without adding fat.
You can use balsamic on broccoli with no other ingredients, but you can also pair it with olive oil and garlic to make a vinaigrette that perfectly complements a broccoli salad or that you can use as a dip for raw broccoli.
Virtually all green herbs go well with broccoli and basil is no exception. Its bright licorice notes, mild pepperiness, and citrus aroma complement broccoli’s herbaceousness and its sweeter elements help to neutralize the slight bitterness that you may get from a green vegetable like broccoli. You can roast broccoli with basil or you can blend it down as an ingredient in pesto with pine nuts and olive oil.
Broccoli pairs well with citrus and nothing brings a stronger citrus flavor than fresh lemon zest. Sprinkle your zest over freshly steamed broccoli or use it as one of the seasonings for roasted broccoli.
Lemon zest will also work with other seasonings on this list including garlic and basil. If you don’t have fresh lemons in your kitchen, orange is one of the other citrus fruit that can work equally well. Bright orange zest can create an attractive contrast with the deep green of cooked broccoli.