How to Cook Vegetables for Dinner: Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, and Broccoli

Updated on March 20, 2018
Diana Grant profile image

I'm a food lover, cooking family meals for over 50 years. Before qualifying as a lawyer, I worked in my family's restaurant & helped run it.

A Cabbage With Brussels Sprouts: They Go Well Together


If you have just started living on your own, there may be times when you know roughly how to cook greens, but you are not too sure of the timing.

Green vegetables are high in vitamins, but if they are over-cooked, the vitamins leach out into the water. Also, the texture changes and they become very soft.

Even the smell changes. Have you ever walked into an institutional kitchen or dining room and been almost overpowered by the pervading smell of cabbage? That's usually because it has been cooking too long, or is being kept hot for ages because people are not all eating at the same time. When I think of the junior school I attended over 60 years ago; my strongest memory is of the disgusting cabbage smell in the refectory. And when I smelt that same smell in my mother's care home, my mind flew back to my childhood.

Yet, strangely, my partner loves the smell of overdone veggies, so everyone has their own idea of how they should be cooked.

How Long Do I Cook Cabbage?


How to Cook Cabbage

  • Pull or cut off as many cabbage leaves as you need, or slice off a chunk of the cabbage. If there are thick, fibrous stems, cut out the hard bits, and also any discoloured or damaged areas.
  • Then wash the leaves of the cabbageyou will find it helpful to wash them in a colanderand tear or cut them into smaller pieces
  • Place them in a saucepan of boiling water, salted to taste, and make sure that the cabbage leaves are completely submerged in the water. Otherwise, they tend to dry out. Boil for fifteen minutes.

    Some people like their cabbage cooked very soft and a bit soggy, in which case, just boil for twenty minutes instead of fifteen. Pale cabbage takes slightly less time to cook than dark cabbage, which is a bit tougher.
  • Then drain the cabbage in a colander or pick it out with tongs, and serve.

I usually keep the cabbage water and use it when making gravy or soup, as it is nutritious. It is also quite pleasant as a hot drink, with a little added pepper.

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts are a bit like Marmiteyou either love them or hate them. They are in the same brassica family as cabbage, but much smaller, about the size of a golf ball, and the flavour is similar, but much more concentrated and strong.

People say that the smaller ones have a better flavour, but as the larger ones are less fiddly to peel, I usually pick larger ones when shoppingthat's just me!

How to Cut a Brussels Sprout


How to Prepare Brussels Sprouts for Cooking

  • Allow about four to six sprouts per person.
  • With a sharp knife, remove any outer leaves that have blemishes and black marks.
  • Then turn them upside down and cut a deep line or cross where they have been cut from the stem of the plant. This helps these tightly compacted little vegetables to cook evenly right the way through.
  • Wash them and put them in a pan of boiling water, salted to taste. You can also steam them, by placing them in a vegetable steamer over boiling water and covering the steamer with a lid. Either way, they need to be cooked for ten minutes if you like them slightly undercooked and solid, or fifteen minutes if you like them softer. Fancy modern chefs tend to undercook them, but the old-fashioned way is to cook them for longer. The longer you cook them, the stronger the flavour, so just experiment until you find out which way you like them.

You can save the vegetable water to make gravy or soup.

I Love this Steamer Set - I sometimes use the steamer as a colender

Norpro 1-Quart Stainless Steel Mini Steamer Cooker, 3 Piece Set
Norpro 1-Quart Stainless Steel Mini Steamer Cooker, 3 Piece Set

I have a set like this and love it - there is a layer with holes at the bottom for steaming green vegetables, with the lid on, or you can use it as a colender for straining vegetables. This fits into the saucepan, so you can use them separately or together.


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Broccoli in a Saucepan


How to Cook Broccoli

Broccoli is a picturesque vegetable, with a head of dark green florets. It should not be eaten if it has been stored too long and has turned yellow.

Broccoli is considered to be one of the most nourishing green vegetables and is therefore particularly good for you (but don't let that put you off!).

  • Wash the Broccoli, then cut or break it into florets, keeping on the short stems attached to the florets
  • Put them into boiling water, adding salt to taste. You can also cook them in a steamer over boiling water. Boil for ten minutes if you like Broccoli with the stems slightly crunchy, and fifteen minutes if you like the stems to be a bit soft. Do not overcook broccoli, or it will go soft and squashy and fall apart, and also the taste will change from delicate and appetizing to intensely strong with a less than pleasant smell.
  • Drain and serve.

You can use the water to make gravy or soup.

Oven-Baked Broccoli

I've only recently been told by my sister an even better but less traditional way of cooking broccoli. They come out of the oven slightly crispy, even crunchy, and are delicious:

  • Cut the broccoli into floret heads
  • Line a baking tray with lightly oiled foil
  • Lay the broccoli florets on the tray
  • Sprinkle with a little salt
  • Spray or lightly dot with olive oil
  • Bake at Gas Mark 6 (140 º) for 20 minutes

Cauliflower Boiling in a Saucepan


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Questions & Answers

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      • LauraGT profile image

        LauraGT 6 years ago from MA

        These are some of my favorite veggies. Thanks for the tips!