The 5-Ingredient Broccoli Recipe My Kids Beg For

The whole family loves it.

<p>Simply Recipes / Molly Adams </p>

Simply Recipes / Molly Adams

My oldest son loves broccoli, and I mean loves it. This may sound like a humble brag about how good of an eater he is, but to be honest, it’s quite the opposite. He is incredibly picky, and while things have gotten better over the years, the only green vegetable he will consistently eat is broccoli. This is of course not a bad thing, but he likes it totally plain; no butter, no seasoning, no cheese, just a pile of steamed broccoli.

While it's hard to complain about his healthy habit, I have recently grown tired of this frankly disrespectful preparation of broccoli. I try to streamline dinner as much as possible, and while we don’t always eat the same thing, it’s a goal I’m working towards. More often than not I find myself choking down this sad broccoli.

Like a broccoli beacon in the night, I recently came across an amazing recipe making the rounds on social media for broccoli tots. Normally my kids are a little too wise for these types of recipes where vegetables are disguised as tater tots or french fries, but since I was working with such a big broccoli fan, I decided to give them a try. The tots have since become one of our favorite side dishes, and even my fussy toddler will eat them.

The recipe I riffed on is from @chefkatemcmillan, who I highly recommend you follow for more awesome dinnertime solutions. My kids prefer things a little more crunchy and cheesy, so I adjusted the proportions to their taste.

The beauty of this side dish is you can customize it to your palate by swapping the cheese for something you have on hand and adding pantry spices. I like to use seasoned bread crumbs since they pack a lot of flavor and make these even speedier to make.

<p>Simply Recipes / Molly Adams</p>

Simply Recipes / Molly Adams

Tips for Making My Broccoli Tots

While these tots are very simple to put together, there are a few things to keep in mind when making them.

  • Don’t overcook the broccoli. I like to steam mine so there is no excess moisture, but you could blanch it as well. You want the broccoli to retain its bright green color and a bit of crunch. It will continue cooking in the oven, so it’s important not to overcook it before mixing everything together.

  • Swap for frozen chopped broccoli or broccoli florets. Let it completely thaw to room temperature, drain, then pat dry with paper towels before chopping.

  • Chop the broccoli by hand. The first few times I made these I tried to use the food processor thinking it would save some time and mess. Unfortunately, the machine is a little too strong for the job and gives the tots a mushy texture that my family did not enjoy. Chopping the broccoli by hand allows you to create a texture similar to a tater tot, with tasty little bits of broccoli still intact.

  • Use the ingredients as a guide—but trust your intuition. Once you mix your broccoli with the bread crumbs, eggs, and cheese, the mixture should hold together well when you squeeze it in the palm of your hand. If that is not the case, you can add a little water or milk one tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together.

<p>Simply Recipes / Molly Adams</p>

Simply Recipes / Molly Adams

How To Make My Broccoli Tots

For a batch of roughly 22 tots, you’ll need:

  • 1 head broccoli, tough stalk trimmed and discarded, then cut into large florets

  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

  • 1/2 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 large eggs

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Milk or water, as needed

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the broccoli florets in a pan fit with a steamer basket. Add water just until it reaches the bottom of the steamer insert. Cover the pan and set over medium-high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, cook the broccoli for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until bright green and fork tender. Remove from the heat, drain the water, and let cool slightly.

When the broccoli is cool enough to handle, chop the florets into small pieces, about the size of a pea. Transfer the chopped broccoli to a large mixing bowl and add the bread crumbs, cheeses, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper, then use a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Test the mixture; you should be able to squeeze a small portion and see that it holds together strongly. If this is not the case, add a little water or milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture holds together when squeezed.

Using a spring-loaded 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, dish the broccoli mixture onto the prepared sheet pan. It should make about 22 tots. With wet hands, pick up each portion and form it into a tot shape, pressing the mixture firmly so it holds together.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on the bottom, then flip over and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

<p>Simply Recipes / Molly Adams</p>

Simply Recipes / Molly Adams

A Few Ways to Customize These Tots

  • A full cauliflower version didn’t pass the test with my tiny food critics, but I’ve swapped about half the broccoli with cauliflower with great success.

  • Don’t mistake this for kids' food—my husband and I devour these things! If you want to make them slightly more sophisticated, try adding some fresh lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes to the broccoli mixture.

  • Play around with the texture. Dried breadcrumbs work best here, but try using panko instead of seasoned breadcrumbs for a bigger crunch factor.

Air Frying

I find these easiest to bake in my oven since I can do so in one large batch, but I often reheat them in the air fryer. If you have an air fryer with a large cooking basket, you could certainly cook them in there; just make sure they are in one layer so they get nicely golden brown. 

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.