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Broc on! 32 broccoli recipes that are actually exciting

We will, we will … broc you.
/ Source: TODAY

For ages, broccoli has had a bad reputation taste-wise. From the late former president George H.W. Bush's famous contempt for it to all the three-year-olds out there with their mouths tightly shut at mealtime, this vegetable (perhaps more than most) is hardly hailed as dinner's winner.

But that's about to change.

Why? Because it's about time this nutritious, cruciferous veggie gets its time in the spotlight. A member of the cabbage family, broccoli is has lots of fiber and vitamins. Just one cup has as much vitamin C as an orange! It's also a great addition to the grocery list for being budget friendly; plus, it's readily available year round in supermarkets, which means that you can use it whenever you want.

If that's not enough to entice you to eat your veggies, we're here to help. Luckily, the fabulous chefs and cooks who frequent the TODAY kitchen are flavor magicians who can dress broccoli up or down, roast it on a sheet pan with crispy chicken Parm, glaze it in a lively miso dressing and even sneak it into pepperoni rolls so kids (and adults!) might actually get excited to eat their broccoli.

So roll up your sleeves, stock up on a few heads of the good stuff and try these easy, delicious dishes starring broccoli.

Side dishes and appetizers with broccoli

Roasting veggies with salt, garlic powder and pepper makes them so delicious. Make sure to evenly spread the broccoli out on the sheet pan so you can get lots of little crispy bits in every bite.

Making a sauce for vegetables, such as this zesty orange one, adds great flavor and encourages picky eaters with veggie aversions to enjoy their greens more.

Say goodbye to bags of freezer-burned Tater Tots. Joy Bauer's homemade version is so easy and delicious. By replacing the potato with broccoli, she cuts back on carbs and calories without sacrificing texture and flavor.

This is a twist on those classic mayo-based broccoli salads, except every element is amped up. Quick-pickled shallots add a tang, Gorgonzola gives a hit of flavorful creaminess and salami inserts the meaty element without forcing you to fry up some bacon.

There's no reason to discard the broccoli stem, which has a radish-like crunch and mild flavor. Cutting it into long spears and searing it keeps the broccoli crunchy while softening its fibers a bit, and the creamy avocado sauce acts as a sort of dip.

Cheese and broccoli are a natural combination in dips and dinners, but when you add bread and eggs into the mix, you get a show-stopping side dish.

When it's hot outside and you don't want to turn on your stove, this light, bright salad is the perfect antidote. Use a grater or your food processor to get the broccoli as small as possible, then combine with the fresh zing of lemon and the brininess of feta to get the perfect summer slaw.

Pepperoni Rolls with Broccoli

Hailing from West Virginia, pepperoni rolls are a popular snack of chewy dough stuffed with pepperoni and gooey cheese. Here, Katie Lee makes a homemade version with the addition of broccoli. It's perfect for entertaining and a great way to sneak in the vegetable.

Serve this simple salad warm, with a vinaigrette that’s bright, acidic and onion-y. You can render out pancetta to get it crispy, use the fat to cook down the shallot and add a splash of vinegar and Dijon to balance it all out.

Grilled Broccoli Caesar Salad

This non-traditional dish borrows ideas from three different countries. The Caesar salad was invented in Mexico, the migas (toasted seasoned bread) hails from Spain and the dressing has a dollop of Japanese miso in it.

What's the secret to stuffing so much cheesy flavor into a soup that's only 200 calories a serving? A rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese is the key to adding lots of rich taste while keeping this comfort food on the virtuous side of the spectrum. A second sneaky add-in comes from peeled and diced broccoli stems in the broth, giving you tons of fill-you-up fiber and cutting down on waste from this nutritious green vegetable.

Entrées with broccoli

Pickled pepperoncini are the secret ingredient here, adding spice and tanginess. They also serve to brighten up the meaty pork chops, nutty chickpeas and earthy broccoli.

This soup incorporates three nutritional-powerhouse ingredients: onions, broccoli and Greek yogurt. It's only 100 calories per cup, contains six grams of protein and six grams of fiber. Pair it with a piece of oven-roasted salmon for the ultimate (and complete) feel-good meal.

Broccoli and cheese make a great pair, especially in a baked pasta. Antoni Porowski's skillet version is crispy along the edges and has a wonderful, crunchy breadcrumb topping — his favorite part.

Broccoli Cacio e Pepe

What better way to enjoy veggies than paired with cheesy, peppery pasta? Adding broccoli to classic cacio e pepe gives the dish a beautiful bright green color and gives it a healthy boost.

When you're trying to get folks who don't love their veggies to finish their broccoli, serve them this pillowy ricotta gnocchi covered in a sweet, slightly spicy pesto sauce, and they'll be begging for seconds.

Savannah's Mom's Broccoli Casserole

This creamy casserole is the epitome of comfort food. The rice makes it filling enough to enjoy as a main, but it is still light enough to serve as a side. And what better way to eat your green veggies than smothered in melty cheese?

This vegetarian one-pan creation is loaded with tons of easy-to-digest plant proteins and fiber. The sliced acorn squash and white beans perfectly caramelize on the outside and remain creamy on the inside.

Ever wonder what celebrity chefs love to cook home? Well, now we know one of Tom Colicchio's favorites: pasta with broccoli, ham and Parmesan cheese. And guess what? All you need is one pot to make this dish, so dinner and clean up will be quick and easy.

If you're a fan or teriyaki chicken rice bowls, this is a low-sodium, low-sugar alternative that can be quickly made from a rotisserie chicken on a night you are just too beat to cook. It's a perfect semi-homemade, 10-minute meal!

Healing Cream of Greens Soup

This is the perfect soup to make when you feel like you need an extra immunity boost. The greens are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants that will have you feeling stronger and on the mend in no time.

When planning what to make for dinner on a weeknight, the checklist typically includes "cheap," "easy," "crowd-pleaser," "healthy," "one-pan," "chicken," and "delicious." This recipe from Kevin Curry of Fit Men Cook checks all of those things off.

You're going to love this versatile rice medley. It's perfect for a weeknight meal because everything is conveniently mixed together, dumped right onto a sheet pan and ready to eat in 30 minutes. Once you pull this pan from the oven, the onions will be caramelized, the raisins will be plump and the veggies will be tender.

Pork Tenderloin Fried Rice

Fried rice is the ultimate customizable meal. You can your choice of rice, your pick of proteins and a variety of veggies to create an easy and filling dinner to suit your taste.

This sheet pan Parm skips the frying step and adds roasted garlic bread and broccoli to make it a complete meal with very little cleanup. Plus, it’s a healthier way to enjoy everyone’s favorite Italian American dish.

Roasted Chicken with Crispy Broccoli

This isn't your basic, boring roast chicken. The beer-based marinade makes this chicken extra juicy and flavorful, and the roasted garlic rub really ups the ante. Plus, there's nothing better to pair it with than super-crispy broccoli.

Sea bass on its own is amazingly buttery, but the marinade takes it to another level. The crispy, gingery broccoli brings the perfect contrast in both flavor and texture.

These baked chicken and ricotta meatballs are lighter than their beefy counterparts and don't require a lot of work. Baking skips the time and mess of browning on the stovetop and leaves you with one mixing bowl and sheet pan to clean at the end — and, most importantly, 20 delicious meatballs accompanied by crisped broccolini.

Baked Lemony Broccoli and Mushroom Pasta

Broccoli, mushrooms and garlic combined with a bright lemony flavor and kick of heat is a pretty unbeatable combination. Baking the pasta gives the pieces along the rim an extra crunchy texture that's deeply satisfying.

Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan

Elizabeth Heiskell

This recipe is one to put on repeat because it's easy enough to make for a Monday night, but the results are nothing short of a fancy Friday night dinner.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Curtis Stone's luscious casserole is a fabulous and family-friendly comfort meal that's easy to make ahead, whether it's a busy weeknight or a special occasion.

Broccoli Cheese Quiche

Broccoli Cheese Quiche

Elizabeth Heiskell

A quiche might sound fancy, but it's actually one of the most versatile dishes. It is, of course, a lovely brunch item but makes a delightful lunch or light supper when served with a salad.