A cast iron skillet? But what do you even DO with that? You’re vegetarian!
Alas, many people equate cast iron skillets with grilling meat. Sure, that’s a great use for them – if you swing with the meat-eating crowd. However, if you’re like us, following a mostly plant-based diet, you might wonder if you even need to add this tool to your current kitchen arsenal. The answer is: yes. Yes, you do. You need a cast iron skillet in your life. You need it because cast iron heats to temperatures that your non-stick pan has only dreamt of. You need it because cast iron sears vegetables evenly, without wilting or over-cooking them. You need it because cast iron is the secret weapon in this fabulous weeknight recipe. Did I mention that you also need seared broccoli in your life? Well, you do, and I’m here to bring you the quick and easy recipe.

Seared broccoli is delicious on it’s own, but you can crank it up a notch by tossing it with some incredibly delicious homemade vegan ginger molasses sauce. (Or, if you’re SUPER pinched for time, you can totally use this awesome vegetarian hoisin sauce if you wish. I don’t judge.)

Already a seasoned (pun-intended) cast-iron user? Skip directly to the recipe here!

Tips & Tricks for Cooking with Cast Iron

How to make sure your vegetables don’t wilt
Blanch, blanch, blanch! Blanch your vegetables (do this by tossing your cut up vegetable into a pot of boiling water for only one minute) This method ensures that your veggies’ bright colours and delicious crunch get locked in.

How to make sure your food doesn’t stick to your cast iron pan
Two things will ensure that your food doesn’t stick to your cast iron: oil, and heat. First, always make sure that your pan is well oiled. It should be glistening, but not pooling. Second, always heat the pan BEFORE adding the vegetable. Once your cold food hits the hot pan, it will sear instantly, creating a non-stick barrier.

How to clean and store your cast iron pan

All you need is some salt, some warm water, and a paper towel or a soft brush.
Step 1: Let your pan fully cool and remove as much excess food as you can.
Step 2: Sprinkle a generous amount of salt in your pan.
Step 3: Dampen your paper towel or soft brush. In circular motions, gently rub away the excess food in the pan.
Step 4: Rinse lightly
Step 5: Dry immediately
Step 6: Oil up your pan with two or three tbsp of canola or grapeseed oil (or any other oil with a high smoke point will do. Olive oil is NOT recommended.)
Step 7: Heat the pan until the oil smokes, swirl, then remove from heat and allow to cool completely. This step ensures that your oil does not become rancid while the pan is not in use. Wipe away any excess oil with a paper towel.
Step 8: Hang your pan, keep it out on the stove, or put it in a drawer – just make sure that it’s not in contact with anything wet and you’re good to go!

Seared Broccoli with Vegan Ginger Molasses Sauce
original recipe by allison sklar

seared broccoli ingredients
1 medium bunch of broccoli, cut into fork-sized pieces
2 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil

ginger molasses sauce
1 tsp miso paste
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
generous pinch of chili flakes (optional, if you like a little spice!)

Mix together all sauce ingredients and set aside.

Start by blanching your broccoli. This will ensure that bright green colour and crunch gets locked in! To do this, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop your chopped up broccoli inside. Let them get nice and green and remove after just one minute. No leaving the kitchen here, this is some quick and serious blanching action!

Drain your broccoli and pat dry. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet (until a drop of water sizzles). Toss your broccoli in and stir for a few seconds. Allow to sear for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, without moving around too much. Florets should be nice and golden with hints of char.

Remove from heat. (Pan and broccoli will remain hot, beware!) Immediately add sauce and stir. Serve hot.