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Posted on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

This might just be the best broccoli you'll ever make

By Jessica Webster


Roasted broccoli with cheese and garlic. Your kids might just love it (and so will you)!

Jessica Webster |

When you're dealing with a 10-year-old, vegetables can be a touchy subject. First you have to find a vegetable that they're willing to entertain the idea of eating. Then you have to prepare it in what they'd consider to be an appealing manner. And if you manage to do all of that, you have to make sure not to repeat it so often that they get tired of it.

For this reason, I am always on the hunt for new ways to prepare broccoli and cauliflower — two of the limited menu of vegetables my son will grudgingly consume.

I recently stumbled across a photo of a tray of roasted broccoli on the social media site Pinterest, hyperbolically labeled: “the best broccoli of your life.” It didn’t look especially appealing in the photo, but how do you pass up The Best Broccoli Of Your Life? It was time to put the recipe to the test.

I had never tried roasting broccoli — for me, broccoli was strictly a steam-it or stir-fry-it vegetable. But Ina Garten — the originator of this recipe — has never met a vegetable she didn’t want to roast. And she’s on to something there, as it turns out.

The recipe calls for parmesan, pine nuts and basil, but you can make it as simple or complicated as you like. The real key is the garlic, the olive oil, the lemon and high heat. The broccoli gets nice and crispy, the lemon gives you a nice tangy brightness, and roasted garlic makes pretty much every vegetable dish better.

Toasting pine nuts is easy. Just set them in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, until the pine nuts are nicely browned.

Ina Garten’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (From The Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics)


  • 4 to 5 pounds broccoli
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves - about 12 leaves (optional)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sat, Dec 8, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

Try roasted Romanesco Cauliflower (that amazing green pointy cauliflower at the farmers market right now) tossed with crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper roasted just like the broccoli - delicious!

Sarah Rigg

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

I've got to agree with DBH on this one. I discovered roasted red cabbage with salt and caraway seeds last year.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

Excited to try this one.

sun runner

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

The first time I ever made roasted broccoli it was so good I wished I had made more, which was the first time in my life I ever wanted MORE broccoli. I HATED broccoli when I was little (and pretty much every other vegetable). Then I discovered the magic of roasting, which makes even brussels sprouts taste good. My go-to roasted broccoli recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, and includes adding a sprinkle of sugar to the uncooked broccoli. The sugar caramelizes on the broccoli in the oven and makes it taste SO GOOD.

George K

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

I make almost this exact recipe at home, except I am a vegan so I make my own "best roasted broccoli ever". Normally I use only: Broccoli, garlic, olive oil and salt, and it turns out fantastically! If you need to add herbs and spices, go ahead, but I like the plain ol' veggie taste with just a little salt. This is my usual "main course" for dinner: some kind of roasted vegetable combination. Don't forget to eat raw veggies too! Also, you can take this exact same recipe from the article, and mix in brussel sprouts, sliced potatoes and parsnips (or pick whatever vegetables you want, really, they practically all go well together roasted). Don't throw away the broccoli stems either! If you don't like them, give them to your dogs, they love the raw stems!

Jessica Webster

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

My dog thanks you in advance. Thanks for the info!

Top Cat

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

"Best broccoli" is like saying best bee sting or best tooth ache.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

I've often wondered about the man behind the Top Cat monicker. Now I know. It's a pleasure to interact with you, Former President George H.W. Bush!


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

I think most of the cruciferous vegetables are far better roasted than cooked by any other method. This includes cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale, in addition to broccoli.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

You've got my vote on that, DBH.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Sorry Jess, this recipe needs bacon if it wants the title of best broccoli in my book.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Great George, now you have me craving these:


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

Sorry vegan. I can't take you seriously.

George K

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

I don't think bacon trumps all other recipes. It just adds a hedonistic flavor, but destroys the nutritional value. If all you care about is taste, just eat candy all day.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Bacon is cheating. Add it to any recipe and it immediately trumps all others.

Jessica Webster

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

Normally I would be with you on that, but you have to try this first. It's really really good. I don't know if bacon would make it better. (gasp ... I know!!!!)