Long Live Broc

I feel passionate about broccoli. It’s not often you hear these words come out of someone’s mouth. Let alone a mom’s mouth. And yet, there I was a few weeks ago, having lunch with my friend Melissa Roberts listening to her talk about broccoli in a manner someone might use to talk about lobster or Shake Shack or the Green Bay Packers. But I knew enough not to change the subject. Melissa was a food editor at Gourmet for almost nine years before it folded (on the same day as Cookie, where I was working a few floors up); She was a cook and a stylist in the Food Network Kitchen and is currently a regular contributor to CTbites; Perhaps most important, she is the one who supplied me with the recipe for Peanut Butter Noodles, which, Google Analytics tells me, you guys seem to click on more than any other vegetarian meal in the DALS archive. But even if you are in the 1% of readers who haven’t made them yet, Melissa has probably found a way into your kitchen some other way. I find it’s impossible to do a search on epicurious without her name popping up on every recipe I end up printing.

But back to broccoli. She feels passionate about broccoli and guess what? It’s in season right now. (Bet you didn’t know it had a season. I didn’t either!) So I’m turning the mic over to her for a guest-post treat and a kick-ass recipe. Thanks, Melissa!

Everyone knows about the beauty of broccoli when you have kids in the house — how it’s an excellent vehicle for dips, delicious topped with melted cheese, simply drizzled with olive oil and salt, or tossed with butter. And I’m not sure I know anyone who hasn’t at one point in their parenting career marketed the little stalks as “trees.”  We rely on it so much, that we’ve all come to see it as an evergreen vegetable, one of convenience, but broccoli is actually a cold-weather crop, best eaten in the deep dark cold months of winter. I try my best to hold off buying broccoli until there’s a chill in the air, but in spite of my best efforts to eat local and seasonally, this has proven a hard resolution to keep because my finicky 9-year-old will go weeks without touching a vegetable…except broccoli.

Last week I spotted the first crop of broccoli at my local greenmarket in Westport, CT. Finally! Broccoli consumption with principle. To my disappointment, the farmers had lopped off the stems. Trimmed of its fibrous outer layer, the stem is the choicest part of this vegetable–crunchy and sweeter than the far more desirable and prettier florets. Of course I bought it anyway. But I didn’t want to do the same old steam and olive oil drizzle. My kids love Chinese food. We all do. Lurking in my freezer were some trimmings from a beef tenderloin. I took of advantage of its frozen state to cut the meat into thin slices (for quick cooking later on), then marinated it for several hours in Sherry wine, soy, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Towards dinnertime, my broccoli got a short blanch so it was still crisp tender and bright green, then stir fried it together with flash seared beef and the marinade. Broccoli got a whole new appearance at the table, my Finicky One loved “the sauce”, and the one-dish nature of this dinner made it easy for a weeknight meal. Oh, and it was completely delicious.

Beef with Broccoli
Serves 4
Recipe by Melissa Roberts

Because the meat is marinated, pricey tenderloin (or even its trimmings) isn’t at all necessary. Far cheaper boneless top sirloin makes an equally good companion to the broccoli. And remember, if you’ve got ‘em, use those stems!

1 lb boneless top sirloin steak
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 fat cloves garlic
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons medium dry Sherry
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar (regular or brown)
1 ½ lbs broccoli
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Accompaniment: steamed rice

Freeze steak until solid and partially frozen, 3 to 4 hours.

Combine ginger, garlic, soy sauce, Sherry, sesame oil, and sugar in a bowl until sugar dissolves.

Cut steak into thin (about 1/16” thick) slices. Transfer to bowl with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.

Cut broccoli into (2” long, about 1”  wide) spears. If you have stems, trim off outer fibrous layer. Halve lengthwise and cut into 1” pieces. Cook broccoli in a 4 to 5 quart of boiling water seasoned with 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Cook broccoli until crisp tender, 2 minutes, then drain well.

Heat oil in a wok or large heavy skillet over medium high heat until it shimmers. Stir fry beef (scraped of excess marinade; in 2 batches if using a skillet) until it’s just no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add broccoli and stir fry until just heated through, 2 minutes more. Whisk cornstarch into marinade, add to wok along with beef and continue to stir fry until liquid boils and just thickens, about 1 minute more.

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I have a confession! Until I made my first meal for my boyfriend a year and a half ago, I hated broccoli! I made him steak with asparagus and he barely touched the asparagus. When I asked him why, he said it’s because he’s more of a broccoli guy. So now, we eat broccoli 3 or 4 times a week in our house – we can’t get enough! Love this post! 🙂


broccoli is also among my favorite vegetables. it’s unfortunate because my husband doesn’t like it that much, and it also makes the house smell when i cook it. i have a fix for those two problems though – i don’t care what the husband thinks about it when i’m doing the cooking (if he cared that much, he’d be inclined to cook, but he’s not – and he doesn’t complain, in his defense). and i ignore the broccoli smell. my son eats it readily and i love it. my favorite preparation is roasted, with a little lemon juice and some parmesan. delicious!


I just want to say: we ate this last night and it was off the hook. It was so good, Abby had seconds.


sherry…page turner!!! this sounds amazing and being a westcoast girl stuck in the quebec countryside i am itching for anything that resembles chinese food. does melissa have a substitution suggestion? maybe this is THAT good i could dedicate the whole bottle to it because i will be making it over and over you say. hhmmm…beef and broc is one of our faves. what to do?? what to do?


We are just getting broccoli in our markets now, and having just moved from Asia to Africa, my kids are craving a little bit of “home”. This is definitely on the menu this week, thanks!


Jen, Buy yourself a bottle of Sherry. It costs $10, maybe $12 bucks tops and will keep for ages. It gives the dish a certain je nos se quoi, so worth the investment. Melissa

Rebecca A.

I tried this tonight and it was amazing!!! I added cilantro and green onions to the marinade.


Timothy Woods


Just wanted to let you know that my wife and I tried this recipe the other night. It so happens that my inlaws were there too. They like the recipe so much that they ask for the leftovers to go!

Anyways, thanks a lot for sharing this. Excited to send the next recipe here to my wife.

Have a great day!