super simple broccoli – the perfect antidote to over-indulging

raw brocoli on wooden chopping board broccoli bowl and frying pan

So it’s the silly season. That time of year when we are all eating and drinking way more than usual. And we still have Christmas and New Years feasting on the horizon.

This week I made a discovery that I think you should at least bookmark for the beginning of January when it’s time to think about detoxing. But between you and me, you might find this recipe comes in handy before then. It sure has been a life saver for me.

You see this week I was lucky enough to eat at the worlds number one restaurant, elBulli. An big food experience in itself. I think I ate my normal daily food intake in the chocolate course alone, and that was after about 30 other courses. Serious indulgence. But the crazy thing was that the very next day, for lunch even, I dined at the number 5 restaurant in the world, el celler de can roca. That’s 6 Michelin stars in less than 24 hours. Yes that’s a lot of rich food.

And while I enjoyed both meals immensely, the first thing I thought of when I got back to the beautiful city of Barcelona, had digested for a while and could actually start thinking about food again, was a big bowl of broccoli. Simple broccoli. Minimalist broccoli. Scorched in bits and still crunchy in others. Green and good for you and ready in minutes.

bowl of broccoli

super simple broccoli

serves 1 as a meal or 2-3 as a side dish

Inspired by Heston Blumenthal via my nutritionist friend Kathryn at Limes & Lycopene and the lovely Luisa at The Wednesday Chef.

This is broccoli at it’s best. Crunchy and fresh in some spots, caramelised and complex in others. It seems like so much more than, well, just broccoli.

The first time I made this was with beautiful fresh broccoli I got from a farmer lady who had set up a stall outside the Santa Caterina markets. All she was selling was broccoli and cauliflower and the long Catalan onions whose name escapes me. Man was that some good broccoli.

To be fair I’ve also made it with broccoli from the normal market and it was still bloody delicious. Not to mention healthy feeling.

If you’re vegan or just not that into butter, feel free to skip the butter and maybe drizzle over just a little of your very best extra virgin olive oil at the end.

You might like to consider serving with a few toasted pinenuts or a softly poached egg – but it is seriously delicious all on it’s own.

It would also make a lovely vegetable accompaniment to the sweet smelling fish-baked-in-a-bag I posted about recently.

1 head broccoli
2T olive oil
1 knob butter
lemon juice, to serve

Preheat a large fying pan on the hottest heat.

Chop the broccoli into even sized mini-trees and then slice the stems into rounds about 5mm (1/4in) thick.

Add oil to pan and when it starts to smoke add the broccoli and cover with a lid or some foil or an oven tray – it’s critical to seal it so the broccoli fries from the bottom but steams at the top.

After 2 minutes, remove the lid, stir and add the butter. Return lid and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Test a piece of broccoli – if it’s tender enough for you remove from the heat. If not cover and keep cooking for another few minutes.

Season and serve hot with a gentle squeeze of lemon.

frying pan of broccoli



5 ingredients. 5 mintues. 5 Holiday Appetizers at Zen Family Habits.

This girl’s in love – a perfect evening at elBulli over at eat|shop|drink.

To see the complete list of prizes for the Menu for Hope – check out tomato. You have until 25th December to get your donations in.


  • Jules, please!!! I am eating broccoli from the garden every day–but I have never been to El Bulli. Please tell all. Blind date was also minimalist?

  • Love broccoli, and am always happy to find new ways to cook it. Fascinated by your dining experience at ElBulli, so thank you for posting at such a busy time of year. Perhaps it’s better that your blind date was more a happy friendship-thing – I can’t imagine trying to concentrate on eating at the World’s best restaurant with the equivalent of George Clooney sitting opposite! Happy holidays & Merry Christmas.

  • thanks reemski
    I agree it’s the goods

    you have a good point there – but I think even if george clooney was across the table it still would have been the food that won my heart that night – it’s pretty powerful

  • Jules, isn’t this a great little recipe? I’ve recommended it to so many people and they’ve all come back happy and impressed.

    Particularly men. Not sure what it is about the recipe, that it’s hot, hot cooking; that it’s fast; that the recipe is written so clearly; that it produces a vegetable dish they love? Not sure, but my male friends all rave about it

  • It is the best Kathryn – can’t thank you enough for bringing it to my attention

    Interesting your comment blokes loving it – I was at the house of one of my mates in Barcelona yesterday and he proudly showed me his broccoli all ready for cooking. All good

  • After reading this, I couldn’t resist running downstairs and cooking the broccoli I had sitting in my ‘fridge. Yum! This may very well be my new favorite way to make broccoli.

    • well if you’re going to choose one green veggie – broccoli would be an excellent choice. but how can you not love asparagus?

  • I love anything green – sprouts tops my list! Thank you for sharing this recipe, I have a few heads to cut in my garden soon!

  • Dear Jules,

    I love your photos, your writing and your recipes (not in that order!). I just made the broccoli recipe (it is steaming next to me as I write) and it is my new favorite dish. Thanks so much!! Can’t wait to try some more…..

  • Just cooked (and ate) the broccoli. Beautiful…amazed something so simple can taste so good.

  • I amde this and thought it tasted wonderfully sweet.
    Gave a taste to my partner and she said’needs salt’.
    Unfair I thought. Would adding salt to the recipe improve it?

  • mike
    great question! I haven’t tried it without salt but seasoning is a really personal thing. If you like it as is then that’s great. If you’re unsure about whether some salt would make it better, take out a small piece and add a little salt and try it. Compare to the unsalted and see which you prefer. Its all about finding what works for your taste buds…

  • This is my go-to now for lunch! It works great for pearl onions and cauliflower too

  • Love this website. Very committed to five ingredient cooking. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • thanks MVCalog
    Glad to hear I’ve converted you ;)

    I’ll have to try it with onions – brilliant idea –
    It’s also great with asparagus and brussels sprouts

  • Jules I have never liked broccoli and always added it because I thought I should rather than for taste! OMG I am sitting here typing whilst eating a yummy bowl of broccoli – who would have thought?? Am making the vegetable and white bean stew for dinner – hope its just as yummy.

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