This roasted broccoli with pickled golden raisins is an easy, healthy side dish of lightly caramelized broccoli spears, topped with pickled raisins, fresh mint, and toasted sunflower seeds.
Yes. Pickled raisins. And roasted broccoli. It’s literally an explosion of tastes (or “flavor bomb,” as one of our recipe testers gushed) as well as textures. And it’s ridiculously easy. Say bye to boring broccoli.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Roasted Broccoli with Pickled Golden Raisins
For the pickled golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup golden raisins (sultanas or substitute regular raisins)
For the roasted broccoli
- 2 heads (about 1 1/2 lbs) broccoli
- 2 to 3 tablespoons mild oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
- 1 brimming cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Make the pickled golden raisins
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, vinegar, water, and raisins and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the raisins leisurely plump while you cook the broccoli.
Make the roasted broccoli
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Due to the innate architecture of broccoli, you’ll need to be a little creative and use a few swipes of your knife to break it down into some elaborate-looking pieces. Then follow the floret to where it attaches to the main stem and snap it off. Work your way through both heads in this fashion, until you’re left with a pile of wispy-ended stemmed florets.
- Peel each stem until you get to the slightly translucent core, then slice the core however you want and add the pieces to the pile of florets. Toss the peels in the compost or reserve for grating and making broccoli slaw or juicing or what have you.
- Heat a large (13-inch | 33-cm) ovenproof skillet (or use two 9-inch [23-cm] skillets) over medium-high heat for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the oil and warm until hot but not smoking.
- Add the broccoli, add a liberal amount of salt, and toss to coat with the oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning the broccoli once and reducing the heat if it’s browning too quickly, until the florets start to develop some caramelized patches, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Slide the skillet(s) into the oven and roast until the florets are tender but the stems still have some texture, 7 to 10 minutes.
Assemble the roasted broccoli with pickled golden raisins
- While the broccoli is roasting, line a plate or rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Transfer the broccoli to the paper towels.
- Drain the pickled raisins, reserving 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid.
- When the broccoli is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a bowl, add the pickled raisins and 2 tablespoons reserved soaking liquid, sunflower seeds, mint, lemon juice, and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is simply fantastic. It has all the tastes and textures that keep you coming back for more. It’s a simple recipe that’s easy to follow and the results would still be worth it even if the recipe were more time- and labor-intensive.
I allowed the raisins to steep in the pickling juice for 35 minutes, but it could easily have been less. The broccoli caramelized where it touched the cast-iron pan as I cooked it. I put it in the oven for 8 minutes and it came to just the right texture—neither undercooked nor overcooked with a perfect crisp tenderness.
If you’re looking for boring broccoli, keep on looking. This recipe is packed with flavor and texture. The broccoli is tender-crisp, earthy, and slightly bitter (in a good way) from the char. The raisins are plump and sweet. The pickling liquid is mouthwatering and complex—it’s sweet and sour and salty and there’s a little heat. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the mint comes in and cools things down. So yummy. Oh, and there’s the crunch of the toasted sunflower seeds. There’s a lot of good things going on here and they work really well together.
This recipe checks off all the boxes for me. It’s easy to prepare, healthy, looks amazing, and tastes delicious. I used regular raisins as that’s what I had on hand and served it with braised chicken thighs and it was a hit. The acid from the pickled raisins played nicely against the fat of the chicken.
I highly recommend doubling this recipe because it goes fast! It serves 4 if another side is offered but this was tasty and we went back for seconds so it was two large servings for us.
This was SO fantastic! The dish was bright, different, and had us all going back for more (except for the kids).
Next time I would add more broccoli as this made A LOT of sauce and I felt sad throwing it away. I didn’t have any white wine vinegar so I used rice vinegar. It reminded me of dishes I’d tasted in Southeast Asia. I didn’t have sunflower seeds so I used toasted and chopped almonds. I loved it so much I wouldn’t change it next time.
It would be a perfect side dish for barbecue served at room temperature or as an entree served over rice or couscous. This will definitely make it into our monthly rotation.
I would say it served 3 broccoli-loving adults.
I read “pickled raisins” and thought, “I don’t think so.” However, as we are broccoli lovers in this house, I decided to keep an open mind. My significant other, however, simply looked horrified when I announced I was making it and he was going to eat it. The huge bumper crop of mint in my garden was a powerful motivator. Boy, am I glad I persisted! This recipe was a flavor bomb. It was delightfully spicy with sweet notes, a great crunch, and fantastic texture in every bite. Our first bites were perplexing, and neither of us was sure how we felt about it. By the third and fourth bites, we were hooked. It has an addicting quality to it.
Be sure to get a great toast on your sunflower seeds—it makes all the difference! Golden raisins were difficult for me to find, but I was able to locate them at Target. Don’t be tempted to skip the red pepper flakes—even if you’re unsure, they’re critical to the flavor. I used a baking sheet for roasting since my skillet isn’t ovenproof.
I served this with a Moroccan-spiced chicken over rice and we loved the combo. We had it at room temp for dinner and the next day cold for lunch. I preferred it cold, it’s a great lunch “salad” of sorts. The flavors get better overnight.
Originally published October 24, 2020
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This dish is delicious! Although this dish seems, on paper, similar to many roasted broccoli recipes, it definitely has its own combination of flavors and I will add it to my favorite broccoli recipes.
My family loves roasted broccoli and we have it often, so right when I saw the recipe ingredients, it appealed to me. This also caught my eye because I usually make an “Italian” version with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and pine nuts, Parmesan or pecorino, and I occasionally add raisins. The slightly different take appealed to me. The ingredients in the recipe are all fantastic and so great together. The results equaled more than the sum of its parts in this! We really loved the pickled raisins and they added spunk—everyone commented on how good they were.
It’s worth the few minutes to quickly pickle the raisins because it adds that unique sweet, sour, and spicy character, and they become wonderfully plump and burst with the flavorful liquid. I let the raisins steep for about 45 minutes and they were delicious. There is a lot of freedom on how long to steep, I did what was convenient for me.
The seeds added a nice crunch, and another layer of flavor. I would probably sub the sunflower seeds for another seed or nut, pistachios, cashews, or pepitas. The sunflower seeds worked well, but I prefer the flavor of other nuts and seeds and I always have those on hand. This is just personal preference. Some kind of crunch is essential to the overall recipe.
I thought 1 cup of mint would be overpowering, but it was right on with the other flavors.
The broccoli developed caramelized patches, but after 3 1/2 minutes, I did have to turn down the gas to low (gas heat) because I noticed the caramelized pieces were in danger of being burned.
I had to add an additional tablespoon of oil to the broccoli while cooking. It could be because I used a very large pan. I wasn’t liberal with the extra oil, but an extra tablespoon added toward the end once the oil was pretty much absorbed made a big difference.
I checked a few times from 6 to 8 minutes but the thicker stems (even though I did trim to points at the end) were still not cooked as I felt they should be. Perfect after 10 minutes.
We had this as a side vegetable but it would be dynamite alongside rice or stir-fried noodles for a flavorful meal—this is the way I’ll make it next.