cooked broccoli florets in a bowl with lemon zest and parmesan cheese


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Freshly grated parmesan cheese is a simple yet downright delicious way to elevate a bowl of broccoli! It’s vibrant, fresh, absolutely bursting with flavour and comes together in just a few minutes. It’s the perfect side dish to any meal!

There’s no shortage of broccoli recipes on this blog. You know what I’m saying? From cooking it in all sorts of different ways – roasting, steaming or sautéeing it in a pan with a bit of crispy garlic to using it as the star in anything from stir fries and soups to mac and cheese and salads, I guess you can say that we have a bit of an obsession with it in our house. I mean, what’s not to love?

It’s vibrant green colour brightens up even the most boring dishes, it pairs well with virtually any ingredient or any meal annnnd, to top it all off, it’s absolutely packed and loaded with essential nutrients, including vitamins C, K, and A, as well as folate, fiber, and various antioxidants. It’s a nutrient-dense vegetable that can be a valuable addition to a balanced and healthy diet and it also tastes good. So, like?!?!?! You can’t win ’em all but you certainly can with broccoli!

bowl of broccoli with parmesan and lemon zest, lemons, parmesan and mandoline grater in the background

Ok, ok. So, I know what you’re thinking. “But Annnndreaaaa!!! I have kids! And kids don’t eat broccoli!” And you know what I say? Challenge accepted! I may not have kids but I do have a 3 year old niece and a 9 month old nephew so that’s pretty much the same thing… am I right?! And while said 3 year old niece can’t get enough broccoli at the moment, I do understand that it’s not as easy with all of the kids on the planet. Some kids hurl at the simple thought of a green vegetable. And I don’t blame them when said green vegetable looks like a miniature forest of tiny trees!

My solution? Add parmesan cheese! Because when on God’s green earth have you ever added a healthy dose of freshly grated parmesan cheese to a dish and hated it?! As a matter of fact, was there ever even a time when you added parmesan cheese to something and it made it taste worse, not better?! Yeah, I didn’t exactly think so! That’s a land that doesn’t exist! And when have you ever met a child that didn’t like something doused in copious amounts of cheese? That’s right. We got ’em!

So, whether you’re a broccoli enthusiast or someone trying to win over picky eaters, mastering the art of cooking broccoli to perfection can elevate any meal. With these simple tips and techniques, you can enjoy flavourful, vibrant broccoli that’s tender but never mushy. So go ahead, give it a try and let parmesan cheese show kids that maybe there’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating a miniature forest of tiny trees (especially ones doused in parmesan cheese!!!) afterall!


ingredients for broccoli with parmesan cheese - broccoli, parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon zest, garlic
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Simple ingredients come together to create a delicious and wholesome dish in this broccoli with parmesan cheese recipe. It’s no wonder everyone always loves it and it’s gone in a flash! Let’s discuss each ingredient in a little bit more detail down below:

  • Broccoli: The star of the show in this side dish recipe! Broccoli is prized for its high nutritional content, boasting an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s known for its vibrant green colour and provides the perfect texture to this dish.
  • Garlic: Adds a savoury depth of flavor to the dish. Therefore, freshly minced garlic works best in this recipe. However, if all you have on hand is garlic powder, you can use 1/2 a teaspoon instead of the 2 fresh cloves.
  • Parmesan Cheese: A hard, granular cheese made from cow’s milk. It originates from Italy and is aged for an extended period, resulting in a rich, nutty flavour and granular texture. In this recipe for broccoli with parmesan cheese, it adds an irreplaceable depth of flavour and richness to the dish.
  • Olive Oil: Used for sautéeing/cooking the garlic and broccoli and adds a subtle fruity flavour to the dish. Good quality extra virgin olive oil works best in this recipe. However, you can use a different oil instead (such as avocado or coconut) if you prefer.
  • Salt and Pepper: Enhances the overall flavour of the dish. Salt not only adds taste but also helps to balance flavours and enhance other ingredients’ natural flavours. While pepper adds a subtle heat and depth to dishes, complementing the savoury notes of the broccoli and Parmesan cheese.
  • Lemon Zest (optional): Adds brightness and a citrusy aroma to dishes without the acidity of lemon juice. In this recipe, lemon zest is used as a garnish to enhance the overall flavour profile of the broccoli with Parmesan, providing a refreshing contrast to the savoury elements.
bowl of broccoli with parmesan cheese and lemon zest, bowl of more parmesan in the background


spoonful of broccoli florets with parmesan cheese and lemon zest over a bowl with more

You can find full instructions for how to make this easy recipe for broccoli with parmesan cheese in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Select fresh broccoli with firm, tightly closed florets and vibrant green colour. Avoid broccoli with yellowing florets or signs of wilting, as these indicate aging and potential loss of flavour and nutrients. EXTRA TIP: Cut the broccoli into as uniform size pieces as you can. This ensures even cooking in the same amount of time.
  • Blanch the broccoli properly. Blanching broccoli helps to soften it slightly while retaining its vibrant colour and crisp texture. Be sure not to overcook the broccoli during blanching; it should be tender but still have a slight bite. EXTRA TIP: Immediately transfer the blanched broccoli to ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve its colour.
  • Add the garlic at the right time. Garlic can burn easily, so add it to the skillet once the oil is heated but not smoking. Sauté the garlic for just about a minute until fragrant, being careful not to let it brown too much, as burnt garlic can impart a bitter flavour to the dish.
  • Use high quality parmesan cheese – after all, it is one of the highlights of this dish! Opt for freshly grated Parmesan cheese (that you grate yourself) for the best flavour and texture. Pre-grated Parmesan cheese may contain anti-caking agents that can affect its melting properties and flavour. Grate the cheese just before using it in the recipe for optimal freshness.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste. Taste the dish as you go and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Start with a moderate amount of salt and pepper, then add more if needed. Remember that Parmesan cheese is salty, so you may need less additional salt than you think.
  • If using lemon zest as a garnish (which I personally highly recommend), add it just before serving to preserve its bright flavour and aroma. The lemon zest adds a refreshing contrast to the savoury broccoli and Parmesan cheese, and therefore enhances the overall taste of the dish, IMHO.
side view of a bowl of broccoli with parmesan cheese and lemon zest, block of parmesan and mandoline grater in the background



Whether steaming or boiling is better for fresh broccoli depends on personal preference and the desired outcome for your dish. If you prefer crisp-tender broccoli with maximum nutrients and vibrant color, steaming may be the preferred method. However, if you prefer softer broccoli or plan to incorporate it into recipes where a softer texture is desired, boiling may be more suitable.


Boiling broccoli before cooking it further is not necessary and can actually lead to the loss of some nutrients. Broccoli is typically cooked by either steaming, sautéing, roasting, or even eating it raw, depending on the desired dish and personal preference. If you’re planning to cook broccoli, you can skip the boiling step and directly proceed to your chosen cooking method.

However, blanching broccoli serves a specific purpose and differs from boiling in a few key ways. Blanching involves briefly immersing the broccoli in boiling water, typically for just a couple of minutes, followed by immediate transfer to ice water to stop the cooking process. This quick cooking method helps to preserve the vibrant green colour of the broccoli and maintains its crisp texture. Unlike boiling, which can lead to overcooking if not carefully monitored, blanching allows for precise control over the cooking time. The goal of blanching is not to fully cook the broccoli but rather to partially cook it, making it tender yet still firm enough to hold its shape during further cooking methods such as sautéing or roasting.


To avoid broccoli becoming mushy, it’s important to cook it properly. Start by selecting fresh broccoli with firm, tightly closed florets. When cooking, opt for methods like steaming, sautéing, or roasting, which allow you to control the cooking time more precisely. Avoid boiling broccoli for too long, as this can lead to mushiness. Additionally, ensure not to overcrowd the pan when cooking, as this can cause the broccoli to steam instead of sautéing or roasting properly. With these methods, you can enjoy broccoli that is flavourful, tender, and not mushy.

bowl of lemon parmesan broccoli with two spoons
cooked broccoli florets in a bowl with lemon zest and parmesan cheese


Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Freshly grated parmesan cheese is a simple yet downright delicious way to elevate a bowl of broccoli! It's vibrant, fresh, absolutely bursting with flavour and comes together in just a few minutes. It's the perfect side dish to any meal!


  • 1 head Broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated, plus more for garnish
  • Lemon Zest, optional, for extra flavour


  1. Blanch the broccoli. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until slightly tender but still crisp. Remove from the boiling water and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and set aside.
    broccoli florets steaming in a pot of water
    broccoli florets in an ice water bath in a bowl
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
    minced garlic cooking in some oil in a wok
  3. Add the blanched broccoli florets to the skillet with the garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is heated through and coated with the garlic-infused oil.
    broccoli florets cooking in a wok with garlic
  4. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the broccoli and toss gently to combine. Cook for an additional minute until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is evenly coated. Transfer the broccoli to a serving dish and garnish with lemon zest if desired. Serve hot.
    broccoli florets cooking in a wok with parmesan cheese
    broccoli florets steaming in a wok with garlic
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 122Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 225mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g

Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.

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