Healthy Recipe, Charred Broccoli

“Scrumptious” isn’t a word you often hear to describe broccoli, but it applies to this recipe, lightly adapted from Michal Korkosz’s “Polish’d: Modern Vegetarian Cooking from Global Poland.” Charring the florets lends a smoky flavor enhanced by a drizzle of tangy soy-based dressing that gives a boost of umami, or “fifth flavor.” A dollop of lemony mayo provides a richness and creamy contrast. Poppy seeds add a flavor and crunch. Serves 4. — Susan Puckett


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (or other sweetener, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup regular or vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound broccoli (1 large or 2 medium heads)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Make the fifth flavor sauce: In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water.
  • Make the lemony mayo: In another small bowl, mix mayo and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt.
  • Prepare the broccoli: Cut off the stem, separate the florets, and cut each floret in half lengthwise.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the broccoli florets cut-side down and char them until dark spots appear, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully pour ½ cup water into the skillet and cook until the water evaporates, and the broccoli is cooked through but still retains some crunch.
  • Place the broccoli on serving plates and drizzle with the fifth flavor sauce. Add a dollop of the lemony mayo alongside. Sprinkle with the poppy seeds and season with pepper before serving.