Super-Charged Garlic Lemon Broccoli

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

I didn’t eat broccoli until I was 32 years old. Seriously. I know … ridiculous, huh? I finally decided to eat broccoli when I was pregnant with Son. I was looking for extra nutrition, particularly iron. I was taking double the dosage of prenatal vitamins to keep anemia and the accompanying fatigue at bay. The double vitamins and increased ingestion of healthier foods did work. I felt surprisingly great during my pregnancy. However, at the time, I had no idea that I was experiencing vitamin/mineral deficiency issues due to malabsorption caused by gluten.

When I first started eating broccoli, I always served it with a cheese sauce. (After all, I needed calcium, too, right?) But, soon, I didn’t feel like making cheese sauce and I was actually learning to like the taste of the broccoli itself, so we just started eating it steamed with some butter. After draining, I’d add just a few thin slivers of butter to melt on the steaming broccoli. Really, not much butter was needed. That has remained my favorite way to eat it for many years. But, now I am eating dairy free, so a recipe for Garlicky Lemon Broccoli that had been shared online somewhere came to mind. I had printed it out, but never tried it because, as I shared, I was pretty pleased with my steamed broccoli with just a little bit of butter. So the Garlicky Lemon Broccoli recipe has remained unused in my massive pile of “I want to try” recipes. The recipe said it came from the highly recommended Fresh Choices cookbook.

Then, recently, I spied a recipe for Jenny’s Super Curry Salad by Jennifer Motl (Bright Eating), a registered dietitian and former area resident, in our local newspaper. Her recipe obviously called for curry (which I still don’t care for … maybe next year on that one) and a lot of other ingredients that are packed with nutrition and which I do like. Obviously, I wasn’t interested in the yogurt dressing, but I thought I could borrow some of the elements of Jennifer’s recipe and use them with the Garlicky Lemon Broccoli recipe. The result is this Super-Charged Garlic Lemon Broccoli. It doesn’t take any longer to make than regular steamed broccoli, but it’s colorful, full of flavor, and super charged with nutrition. Plus, the recipe is naturally gluten free (gfe!), dairy-free, and refined sugar free—my current trifecta of deliciousness!

Super-Charged Garlic Lemon Broccoli
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

About 5 cups of broccoli, cut into florets
Juice of half of a lemon
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Toppings, as desired; e.g. dried cranberries, sliced almonds, chia or hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, sautéed mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, almond flour

Steam your broccoli to desired doneness; drain. While broccoli is steaming, squeeze the juice from the half lemon into a large bowl. Add and whisk in oil gradually until thoroughly blended. Whisk in garlic, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Add the hot broccoli and toss until coated in dressing (or simply pour dressing over broccoli and stir a bit).

Sprinkle with toppings of your choice. As shown in the photo, I’ve added dried cranberries, hemp seeds, and sautéed, sliced Baby Bella mushrooms.

Make about 4 servings

Adapted from Fresh Choices and Jennifer Motl

Shirley’s Notes: If you use a microwave, microwaving your lemon on high for about 30 seconds will yield more juice when you squeeze the lemon. Rolling on the counter a bit beforehand also works.

This dish works well either hot or cold, and works as a side dish or a vegetarian/vegan main dish. I actually prefer it hot when the garlic lemon dressing is still light and lovely. When cold, this dish takes on a tarter taste. I predict any broccoli lovers will enjoy this recipe, and it just might convert those who currently abstain. The Garlic Lemon Broccoli “base” recipe was actually shared by a mom who said her kids absolutely love broccoli made this way. I can understand why. It’s not overly garlicky or lemony, but light and tasty—surprisingly appealing. You just wants to keep eating this broccoli after you have a taste. And, the toppings just add to the goodness. To help win over the broccoli non-believers, follow Alison’s lead of setting out veggies when the kids are hungry (which she shared in her guest post over at 30 Days to a Food Revolution)—perhaps slightly before dinner.

Don’t forget to check out all the Food Revolution posts over at Diane’s (The W.H.O.L.E. Gang). Up this week, it’s been Alisa (Go Dairy Free, Dairy Free and Fit, and One Frugal Foodie) on Monday, Lauren (Celiac Teen) yesterday, and today, Melissa (Gluten Free for Good). Such terrific posts with recipes and tips … you won’t want to miss them. 

Don’t forget to eat your broccoli! Enjoy!

Not just gf, but gfe!

Not just gf, but gfe!

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27 Responses to “Super-Charged Garlic Lemon Broccoli”

  1. Chelsey on May 12th, 2010 11:45 am

    What a great healthy recipe Shirley. I am so shocked you have never tried broccoli until age 32!!! That is nuts, but I’m sure glad you’ve grown to love it. I make a variation of this when I cook broccoli. How is the eating dairy free going for you? I’m trying to reduce my consumption of dairy (particularly milk and cheese). It’s hard because I crave them all the time. But food can taste good in other ways too. I’m looking to expand on those ways.

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 8:10 am

      Hi Chelsey–I know about my late love of broccoli … who could believe it? I’m still trying and learning to love other new foods, too. It’s actually quite wonderful.

      I’ve had a few momentary lapses on dairy (can you say chocolate? and not the very dark kind), but overall I am doing well. When you remove dairy and then eat a little, you can immediately see the negative effects. For me, those include yucky mucous, crusty eyes, sluggishness/fatigue, and constipation. So that’s a pretty good incentive NOT to eat dairy. Once dairy is out of my diet, I don’t necessarily miss it. It’s more the convenience of using it in recipes. And, if I start eating it regularly, then like you, I will crave it. I’ll actually want to eat it 24/7 practically. And, I hate that feeling of being controlled by food. Just have to recalibrate on some of my recipes or focus on the ones that are naturally dairy free, which is my usual fallback stance. :-)


  2. Jennifer R. on May 12th, 2010 1:16 pm

    wow, glad you enjoy broccoli now — it’s always been a favorite of mine… with butter and sea salt — yum! Will try the garlic lemon sauce soon.

    And perhaps I’ll have to bring something with curry to your next support group meeting :) I LOVE curry!!

    have a super week!

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 8:13 am

      Hey Jennifer–While I like this broccoli cold, too, I’d recommend trying it hot the first time. Cold, it’s tarter and, therefore, has a different taste.

      I know you are a curry lover. Maybe the next meeting after our tea on Tuesday you can bring something with curry and I’ll have a bit (maybe). Don’t think you’ll have a curry treat suitable for our tea, but you have been known to surprise me!


  3. Heather @CeliacFamily on May 12th, 2010 1:49 pm

    Looks like a great recipe for us to try. We love broccoli at my house. It’s one of my kids’ favorites, but they like it best left plain. I’ll have to try this one on them.

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 8:15 am

      Hi Heather–As I was just telling Jennifer, I recommend trying this dish hot the first time. It’s light and lovely while it’s hot, but a bit tarter and more of a classic vegetable salad taste when cold. I’m not sure most kids would go for it. I hope you all will like it when you give it a try! :-)


  4. Deanna on May 12th, 2010 3:04 pm

    Yum! We love broccoli in our house. It’s our go-to green veggie. I like the combo of the garlic and the lemon. I’ll have to try your recipe!

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 8:17 am

      Hi Deanna–Thanks! :-) Broccoli is one of our absolute favorites, too. Son always called them “trees” and would eat every piece if you’d let him. Mr. GFE and I did want a little for ourselves. ;-) You’ll most likely prefer it hot. It’s very nice that way. :-)


  5. Jessica on May 12th, 2010 5:31 pm

    This looks really good! I love broccoli and have all the ingredients. I just might have to make this tonight ;)

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 8:18 am

      Hi Jessica–Nice to see you! :-) Sounded like a plan … let us know if you made it and what you thought. ;-)


  6. stephanie @ glutenfreebynature on May 13th, 2010 10:36 am

    I miss broccoli so very much. Can’t wait to try this:)

    Lemon, garlic and EVOO are such a great combination. Nice!

    have a great rest of the week.

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 11:33 pm

      Hey Stephanie!–Hope you enjoy this recipe. :-) I think it’s absolutely delicious when hot.

      Hope you have a great weekend yourself!


  7. glutenfreeforgood on May 13th, 2010 3:25 pm


    This is my kind of side dish (or main dish). I’m not fond of raw broccoli or cauliflower, so lightly steamed is perfect. I love your addition of red pepper flakes to give it some kick. And cranberries for some tarti-ness (is that a word?).

    You’re right though, butter melting over steamed broccoli is the best. Thirty-two years old before your first bite of broccoli?! Hey, at least you tried it. I have a friend who’s never eaten a beet. Ever! That’s beyond my comprehension. I’m really lucky — I grew up with a mom who served me broccoli, beets, spinach and all kinds of healthy food. Can’t remember ever having twinkies.

    I’m saving this recipe of yours, Shirley. Sounds (and looks) great! Good one.


    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 11:38 pm

      Hi Melissa–Thanks! :-) I have to agree with you on raw broccoli and cauliflower. I don’t dislike the taste, but my body does better with them steamed or roasted.

      You are so lucky that you had your mom with her healthy menus. :-) While I missed out on some good stuff growing up, I’m catching up now, and I like it!

      Try this recipe hot first … that’s my favorite. Cold the next day, it has more of that “vinegary” tart flavor. ;-)


  8. The Diva on a Diet on May 13th, 2010 6:15 pm

    Mmm, Shirley, this super charged broccoli looks super delicious! I just love broccoli but rarely make it because my husband is only so-so on it. Maybe he’d like it more with all these yummy fixings though?

    I’m adding this to *my* giant must-make pile! LOL

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 11:42 pm

      Hi Diva–Hmmm, it would be interesting if this made broccoli an acceptable veggie at your house. Try your husband’s favorite toppings to unfairly influence him. ;-) And, serve this dish hot, too. I think that’s the best way to eat it. LOL … I knew someone else would confess to a giant “must make” pile!

      Thanks, dear!


  9. Alta on May 13th, 2010 6:18 pm

    Yum! While I’ve always loved broccoli, I tend not to do much with it – our favorite way to enjoy it is steamed just until the hard crunch is gone, and lightly salted with kosher salt. Super simple. But I might have to get outside of my little comfort zone.

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 11:44 pm

      Hi Alta–It’s true … broccoli is so good prepared simply. I like that this recipe adds so much additional nutrition to the broccoli. I like to get as many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. in as possible in one dish. (Hence, my love of green smoothies, too.) And, the taste of this combination while hot is really yummy.


  10. Jenn/CinnamonQuill on May 13th, 2010 8:24 pm

    I bet this works well over roasted broccoli too! I’ll have to give this a try, the flavor combination sounds superb.

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2010 11:53 pm

      Hi Jenn–Good to see you! Now you just made this concept even better … just use roasted broccoli–yes! I love roasted veggies, so roasting the broccoli before adding the dressing and topping would work great. :-)


  11. Alea on May 18th, 2010 10:39 pm

    I ate broccoli for the first time when I was 22. The first time I met my future in-laws my m-i-l served broccoli, which basically compelled me to eat it despite the fact that I was sure I would hate it. However, she had lightly sauteed it in olive oil with garlic and pepper and it was surprisingly delicious. Now, it is one of my favorite veggies raw or cooked, so I am definitely going to give this recipe a try soon!

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2010 6:09 am

      Alea–What a great story! Your MIL’s broccoli sounds delicious, and talk about grace under pressure, huh? Some of us tend to have preconceived notions about food, so it’s wonderful to eliminate them. I like eating this recipe hot with the garlic-lemon-olive oil dressing and toppings. Cold, it’s much tarter … almost a vinegar taste.


  12. Aubree Cherie on May 19th, 2010 12:39 pm

    I just love this. So simple yet I know I would gobble it down! I’ve already been scheming which ‘extras’ I’d use. I’ve added the recipe to my favorite recipes from the last two weeks post :)

    ~Aubree Cherie

  13. Maggie on May 6th, 2011 8:22 pm

    Shirley I just made this (adopting you!!!!!!) and it is so so so good. I love it. I always find broccoli hard to eat so now I can enjoy it when I steam it, and have some salad dressing made at the same time! Great recipe. I added some nutritional yeast. xo

    • Shirley on May 6th, 2011 8:38 pm

      Hey Maggie–Oh, that’s very cool. I’m so glad you love your version of this recipe. The nutritional yeast is a great idea. It’s so unusual that you find broccoli hard to eat since you are such a healthy eater. I guess we all have our eating challenges. Happy to help you with one of them! ;-) I already love being adopted by you, dear.


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