Steamed Broccoli with Creamy Cilantro Lemon Dipping Sauce

It’s time to eat your vegetables!

I really haven’t been eating enough veggies lately.  Bacon? Plenty.  Chocolate chip cookies? Oh yeah!  Pizza? Three days worth.  Cinnamon buns? That was our dinner the other night.

Something’s seriously gotta change around here!  Granted, I have been cooking at home a lot lately.  But if I don’t get back to cooking some of my healthier recipes, I’m still gonna end up looking like I’ve been eating at McDonald’s every night!

And I know my body is getting sick of eating nothing but fat and sugar. Because yesterday, when I ran up to the market to grab some eggs, the broccoli cravings started.

Every once in a while, my body lets me know when it needs to get back on the green stuff.  I was walking past the produce on my way to eggs and I was stopped in my tracks by that huge pile of beautiful green broccoli.  My body was saying, “feed me broccoli NOW!”

So, I picked out some broccoli, grabbed the eggs, and headed home to feed the beast. I walked in the door, pulled out the pot with a steamer insert, washed and chopped the broccoli and had it steaming within about three minutes.  I was completely on autopilot, my body just wanted some vegetables immediately!

I don’t like my broccoli overcooked, so I steam it only until it’s bright green and just barely tender.  I ate the first pieces plain, with my fingers, right out of the steamer basket.

Once my body realized that I was actually feeding it good stuff, I was able to relax and think about what else I might eat for dinner. After ruling out bacon (only because I had already eaten it for breakfast), I decided that the rest of the pot of broccoli would do just fine for dinner, as long as I had some of my trusty dipping sauce!

Am I the only one who likes to eat steamed broccoli with my fingers?  Growing up, we always dipped our broccoli in mayonnaise (although I was probably forced to use a fork back then).  I still love broccoli with mayonnaise, but it’s not the healthiest option, right?

About a year ago, I started creating yogurt-based sauces for my broccoli and artichokes.  I still add a bit of mayo, but the sauces mainly consist of yogurt and chopped fresh herbs and lemon or lime juice. Usually I make them with whatever herbs I happen to have on hand, but the cilantro lemon sauce has definitely become a favorite!

Luckily I had all the ingredients to make my favorite one last night!  This sauce is so good with broccoli! But it’s also good for dipping artichoke leaves, and one night I realized that I like it with corn chips, too!  You could even use it for a salad dressing if you have any left over.

Creamy Cilantro Lemon Dipping Sauce

zest of one lemon*
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup thick yogurt**
1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more, to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

1. Whisk together first six ingredients and add more salt to taste if desired.
2. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste.
3. Serve alongside steamed broccoli or artichokes.

Yield: approx. 1 1/4 cups of sauce

Notes:  *A microplane grater is a lifesaver when it comes to zesting citrus fruit!  **I generally use a strained, greek-style yogurt for my sauces and dips, but it’s also easy to strain the liquid from a regular plain yogurt.
This is a fairly tart sauce so if you’re sensitive to puckering, you might want to scale back a bit on the lemon juice and zest.  I like to add LOTS of fresh ground pepper, but I didn’t measure how much.  Just do lots of tasting and season as you go!

For those of you just tuning in this month, I’m happy to say that I’m participating in the National Blog Posting Month challenge. For this year’s edition of NaBloPoMo, I’ve pledged to post a new recipe every single day for the month of November. If you don’t want to miss a recipe, sign up to receive my recipes by e-mail. You’ll only receive an e-mail when I write a new blog post, and your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose. Interested? Sign up now!

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  1. Ruby

    Emma likes to dip her veggies and suck the ranch, so she never really eats veggies when there is dip! This dip sounds so good, I might do the same…hehe

    10:55 am  Nov 3rd, 2008
  2. Botacook

    This recipe inspires me… nice way to eat vegetables 😉

    11:53 am  Nov 3rd, 2008
  3. Nicole

    Ruby:Hahaha! I like to just eat it with a spoon when the broccoli is gone 🙂
    Botacook:Great! Thanks for stopping by!

    12:20 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  4. sharon from culinary adventures of a new wife

    As much as I love vegetables, days will go by and I’ll realize I need to cut down the carbs (usually rice & pasta) and inject myself with some greens!

    Love the looks of this dip. I love cilantro anything & usually have those ingredients on hand.

    1:10 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  5. Cate

    oh no, i think it might be a seasonal disorder with the sugar and the fat (and the bacon!) because we’ve been doing a lot of the same around here. with kids, there have been no cinnamon rolls for dinner-though the thought has crossed my mind for lunch. sigh!
    thanks for the encouragement toward green. we’re on it.

    1:36 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  6. Fit Bottomed Girls

    We’ve ordered Papa Johns two nights in a row — bad habit!

    I love that this dip uses cilantro. It’s my fave fresh herb!

    4:01 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  7. Rhonda

    Am I the only person alive who does not like cilantro?? This looks so good but I just can’t get my palate around Cilantro, and I live in AZ home of delicious and wonderful Mexican food that utilizes it so well.

    Maybe it is an acquired taste and I just need to practice more?

    4:33 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  8. Aggie

    I have to try this dip…I love my broccoli but it needs a little pick me up these days. This will be perfect!

    5:17 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  9. Nicole

    Sharon: Yes, I go through phases where I eat tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and then it tapers off for a while. Lately I’ve hardly had anything! 🙂
    Cate: I’d blame it on the season except that we’re still not really feeling like fall down here in San Diego! Well, the last couple of days have been cooling off so maybe we’re headed that way!
    Fit Bottomed Girls: Cilantro is my favorite, too! I love dill but my husband hates it and I don’t use it often anymore.
    Rhonda: You are certainly not the only one! Lots of people taste soap when they eat it, I’ve heard it’s genetic, but I’m not sure! My cousin hates it, too!
    Aggie: Thanks to the lemon, I would say that this dip is a definite pick me up!

    5:43 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  10. andrea

    People always look at me like I’m crazy when I share tales of intense broccoli cravings. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one!

    7:12 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  11. Caroline

    This actually just made me crave broccoli at 10pm at night.

    8:57 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  12. Kalyn

    Love it! This has my name all over it.

    10:34 pm  Nov 3rd, 2008
  13. Elin

    LOL, cinnamon buns for breakfast? Love it, I will do the same one day!

    7:38 am  Nov 4th, 2008
  14. Elin

    Sorry, tried to attach both my two websites, didn’t work!

    7:44 am  Nov 4th, 2008
  15. Shari

    This sounds delicious, tasty and good for you all in one bowl. I love cilantro!

    8:09 am  Nov 4th, 2008
  16. Maria

    What a healthy snack!! I love cilantro so I know I will love this!

    9:30 am  Nov 4th, 2008
  17. My First Kitchen

    I just bought some fresh Greek yogurt from a local deli and have been trying to decide how to use it. I do believe a dipping sauce is in order.

    9:54 am  Nov 4th, 2008
  18. Micha

    I do this all the time – eat a head of broccoli (or cauliflower) for dinner. Especially when my hubby is out of town and I can’t be bothered to cook more elaborately. Sometimes I put pesto on the veggies to spice them up – I’ll have to try your dipping sauce though. It sounds great!

    1:40 pm  Nov 4th, 2008
  19. Biz

    Not a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but I’ll definitely try this one!

    Last night I made a broccoli bake – so easy. 1 bag cooked frozen broccoli, 1 can broccoli cheddar cheese mixed with 1 ounce shredded cheddar cheese. Put it in a casserole dish – the top was 1 tablespoon smart balance melted with 1/4 cup bread crumbs – it turned out really good! Haven’t figured out the nutritional information yet, hope it wasn’t too bad!

    1:18 pm  Nov 5th, 2008
  20. Farmgirl Susan

    I love yogurt sauces (and broccoli!) and yours sounds wonderful! : )

    1:34 pm  Dec 1st, 2008
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