In a time of year when sunlight is scarce and viruses are running rampant, our bodies could use all the extra vitamins and minerals they can get. Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of these essential immunity-boosting micronutrients, and my personal favorite nutritional heavy-hitter is broccoli.
These crunchy green florets are chock full of vitamins A, B, C, D, and K; calcium; zinc; iron; and may even help certain health conditions like cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and schizophrenia. Healthy. Heavy. Hitter.
But ironically, finding great-tasting, fresh produce in the middle of winter when we need it most can be challenging, to say the least. As most of us turn to grocery delivery and pick-up in the age of COVID, this produce problem is only aggravated by being at the mercy of someone else’s selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. (Right, I definitely was hoping to get a head of broccoli covered in mold. Thanks so much. Sigh.)
Skip the Hassle, Stick With Frozen
Roasted Parmesan Frozen Broccoli
- 1 bag frozen broccoli (10 oz.)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 4-5 drops liquid amino acids (optional)
- Grated parmesan (optional)
- Sheet pan
- Aluminum foil
- Mixing bowl
Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and set it on the bottom rack of your oven. Leave the pan in the oven while it preheats to 450º F.
Once the oven is preheated, take the broccoli out of the freezer and empty the whole bag into a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, sugar, and spices to the bowl. Use your hands to toss the florets, coating thoroughly.
Remove the sheet pan from the oven and set it on a sturdy surface. Add the broccoli to the sheet pan and spread evenly. (The broccoli should sizzle when it hits the hot pan.) Try to arrange the florets so the flattest part of the stalk is facing down on the pan.
Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges of the florets begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and switch to the broiler setting.
Sprinkle salt over the broccoli. Top with liquid amino acids and grated parmesan (totally optional, but highly recommended). Return to the top rack of the oven for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle broccoli evenly with lemon juice. Serve immediately.
- The “magic trick” of this roasted broccoli recipe is the flash-heating of still-frozen broccoli on a very hot pan. This thaws the broccoli quickly, evaporating extra water as the ice crystals melt and keeping the batch from becoming a sad pile of limp, soggy florets. It’s well worth the wait to allow the oven (and pan) to heat completely.
- Another crucial step that ought not to be skipped is the final sprinkle of lemon juice. Whether you’re using freshly squeezed or bottled juice, the dash of acidity to frozen vegetables helps bring a bit of fresh-tasting “zing” to the overall flavor.
Frozen Broccoli + Sugar and Spice = Oh, So Nice
- Tossing the broccoli in sugar might sound crazy (and reminiscent of an old episode of The Amanda Show – throooowback), but doing so helps to caramelize the florets. At the same time, the salt and other spices keep the veggies more savory than sweet. The combination of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors help take broccoli to a completely new level, one where even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy this nutrient-rich treat.
- My partner and I can easily split a 10-ounce bag of frozen broccoli between the two of us, but it could also be split into 3-4 smaller portions. If you plan on adding a second bag of broccoli, double the rest of the ingredients and make sure to arrange the pan so as much broccoli is directly touching the foil as possible. Two batches might be needed to ensure evenly toasted florets.
- I’ve had success using this same technique on frozen cauliflower, peppers, green beans, zucchini, squash, and carrots. Mixed vegetable blends are a great way to incorporate several veggies at once without adding any extra bowls, plates, or cutting boards to clean. Frozen vegetables are also inexpensive and last up to a year in the freezer, making this an incredibly cost-effective way to eat healthy on a budget without sacrificing flavor.