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Italian Fried Broccoli With Garlic and Chilli Flakes

A super easy Italian recipe that enhances the flavour of the broccoli and gives you a slightly different way of enjoying it. Known as “Broccoli Ripassati in Padella” in Italy, Fried Italian Broccoli is perfect for all the family to enjoy and very quick to make.

Vertical view or the broccoli being scooped up with a silver spoon.

What Makes This Recipe Great!

  • Quick and Easy – It’s ready in under 15 minutes.
  • Traditional Italian Recipe – This simple recipe is a classic vegetable side dish in Italy.
  • A new way to enjoy Broccoli – If you’re tired of eating broccoli the same way every time, you need to try this.

About This Recipe – In More Detail

Broccoli can be a little underrated at times. However, with a handful of ingredients you can transform a simple side dish into something so much better. The twice cooked method we use in this recipe brings out the flavour very well.

A great side dish to lots of different recipes, such as this Turkey En Croute, Cornflour Roast Potatoes or even these Sweet Chilli Salmon Fishcakes, it’s quick and easy to make with simple ingredients, that you can find in most supermarkets or grocery stores.

When we visit our family in Rome, this fried broccoli is often served as a side dish for dinner, it’s a typical Italian recipe found on the table of many Italian homes and with it’s simple flavours, it’s suitable for the whole family to enjoy.


Equipment Needed

  • Sharp Knife and Chopping Board – To prepare the broccoli.
  • Steamer – Ideally, steaming the broccoli first gives the best results. You can also boil it in a large saucepan in salted water, if you do not have a steamer.
  • Slotted Spoon – A useful item for transferring the broccoli to the frying pan.
  • Frying Pan or Large Skillet – This is the main piece of equipment you need in order to fry the broccoli.

Ingredients

A labelled photo of all the ingredients needed to make Italian Fried Broccoli.
  • Fresh Broccoli – Of course, broccoli being the focus of this dish it cannot be substituted. Stick to a fresh head of broccoli where you can. Frozen broccoli florets will also work but may be a little soggier in the final dish. If you use frozen broccoli, pan fry it for a little longer if you find it has a lot of liquid.
  • Olive Oil – Used to fry the broccoli, you can use a different oil if you’d prefer.
  • Garlic – The garlic cloves are used to add flavour to the olive oil. They are fried whole and discarded before the broccoli is added to the pan.
  • Chilli Flakes – This is optional, if you prefer a little kick, add some red pepper flakes. You can also add fresh chilis too.
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper – We use salt and pepper sparingly to season the dish and enhance the flavour.

Additions:

  • Lemon Zest/Lemon Juice – Stir in a little lemon zest or squeeze with some lemon juice for added flavour.
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes – Chop them up and mix in for added colour and taste.
  • Minced Garlic – If you like a stronger garlic flavour, consider mincing the garlic and sautéing it with the broccoli.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – You can drizzle a little good quality extra-virgin olive oil over the finished recipe.
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese/Parmigiano Reggiano – Try grated a hard Italian cheese like these over the top of the sautéed broccoli before serving. You can also use any Parmesan Cheese or Grana Padano too.

Broccoli Ripassati In Padella

So let’s get on to how Italian Fried Broccoli is different. Known in Italy as “Broccoli Ripassati in Padella”, it means Broccoli that is cooked twice. Firstly it is steamed and then sautéed in a pan.

The broccoli is trimmed and boiled in a large pan or steamed to the point where it is fork tender. It is very soft, making the next step easier.

The soft broccoli is drained and then transferred to a frying pan with olive oil that has been flavoured (usually with garlic and sometimes, chilli flakes) and broken up with a spoon or spatula as it is pan-fried.

The small pieces of broccoli become golden brown and crispy in places and the overall flavour of the dish is enhanced with the garlic oil penetrating the entire dish and not just the outside of the broccoli florets.

It is then seasoned with a little salt and pepper and served hot.

A super simple Italian food that is ready in less that 15 minutes.


Step-By-Step How To Make Fried Italian Broccoli

Step 1: Prepare the broccoli

  • Wash the head of broccoli thoroughly under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Trim broccoli into florets, cutting them away from the main, thick stalk.

Step 2: Steam the broccoli

  • Place the florets into a steamer and cook over boiling water until they are soft.
  • Remove the lid from the steamer and allow the steam to evaporate as you prepare the oil.
A hand is using a knife to cut the broccoli into florets on a wooden chopping board.
A hand is placing broccoli florets into the bowl of a steamer.

Step 3: Fry the broccoli

  • In a frying pan, add the olive oil and heat up over a medium heat.
  • Peel the garlic clove and add it whole to the oil.
  • Fry the garlic in the oil for 2-3 minutes until it turns brown. Remove the garlic and discard.
  • If you are adding the chilli flakes, do so now and fry it over a medium-low heat to become aromatic before adding the broccoli.
  • Add the broccoli to the pan and begin to break the florets up into smaller pieces using a spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Fry the broccoli while stirring to prevent it from sticking to the pan. It will begin to turn golden brown and crispy in places. When this happens, it is ready to serve.
An overhead view of a whole garlic clove frying in a large white frying pan.
A hand is using a wooden spoon to break up and stir the broccoli in a frying  pan.

Step 4: Season and serve

  • Season the broccoli with sea salt and black pepper.
  • Transfer the broccoli to a serving bowl.
  • Serve it immediately while still hot.
A hand is pouring salt and pepper into the fried broccoli.

FAQ

Is it better to boil or steam broccoli?

Boiling broccoli can cause it to lose a lot of its antioxidant properties. Steaming it is preferable as the broccoli will lose a minimal amount in comparison, making it a much healthier way to prepare broccoli.

Do you need to wash broccoli before boiling?

It’s important to wash Broccoli before boiling or steaming it to remove any pesticides, dirt or insects present on the surface.


An overhead view of the fried broccoli with a hand scooping it up with a spoon.

Pro Tips and Guidance

  • Fresh Broccoli Works Best – You can also use frozen florets if necessary. However, you may find the finished dish is a little more soggy. To rectify this, try frying for a little longer so the excess liquid can evaporate.

  • Wash The Broccoli Head Upside Down – Before you prepare the broccoli, washing it upside down allows the water to penetrate it fully and sufficiently rinse any pesticides, dirt or insects away.

  • Cut The Florets Into Similar Sized Pieces – This allows it to be steamed evenly so that it cooks in the same amount of time.

Front view of the broccoli in a white pan with a serving spoon.

Storage and Reheating

  • Store: Fried Broccoli can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days in an airtight container. I don’t recommend freezing the fried broccoli once prepared as it may become quite soggy when defrosting.
  • Freeze: If you like to make dishes ahead to save on time, you can freeze the broccoli florets after blanching them for a few minutes. This way, you have prepared the dish partway.
  • Reheating: To reheat fried broccoli, I recommend doing so in a frying pan. You can add a splash of water if it begins to dry out. Be sure to fry it until its piping hot all the way through.

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Overhead view of the pan fried broccoli in a white frying pan.

Italian Fried Broccoli With Garlic and Chilli Flakes

5 from 8 votes
A super easy Italian dish that enhances the flavour of the broccoli and gives you a slightly different way of enjoying it. Known as "Broccoli Ripassati in Padella" in Italy, Fried Italian Broccoli is perfect for all the family to enjoy and very quick to make.
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 135kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 Heads Broccoli
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Pinch Chili Flakes, to taste (optional)
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Begin by washing the broccoli thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Remove the broccoli florets from the main stalk using a sharp knife. You can score the bottom of each floret with a cross to help it cook quicker.
  • Place the broccoli into a steamer pan.
  • Steam the broccoli over boiling water for about 5 minutes until it becomes fork tender and soft.
  • Lift the lid from the steamer and allow the steam to evaporate for a couple of minutes so the broccoli isn't too wet before frying.
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and peel the garlic. Place the whole clove of garlic into the oil. Fry until the garlic has browned and then remove it and discard.
  • Sprinkle in the chilli flakes (if you are using them_ and toast quickly to release the aroma.
  • Tip the florets into the pan and fry them over a medium/low heat, as they fry, you can begin to break them up using a spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Stir regularly to ensure the mashed broccoli isn't sticking to the pan.
  • Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Once the broccoli begins to turn golden brown in places, transfer into a dish and serve immediately.

Video

Recipe Notes

 
  • Fresh Broccoli works best. 
  • When washing the broccoli, turn the head upside down to ensure it is all washed properly. 
  • Cut the broccoli into similar sized pieces to ensure it steams evenly. 
 
 

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 964mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1894IU | Vitamin C: 271mg | Calcium: 144mg | Iron: 2mg

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