Sides & Appetizers

Crispy Oven-Baked Broccoli Tots

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to make something fun, green, and festive for the occasion. And since I already had a bag of broccoli florets and cheddar cheese I used for a broccoli cheddar soup last week, I thought I could make something with what I already had on hand. And that’s how I came up with these broccoli tots! These are so cheesy and loaded with vegetables. Also, they make a good kid-friendly appetizer for St. Patrick’s Day!

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You may already be familiar with potato tots (or tater tots). Certainly, I became very familiar with serving them in my school nutrition rotation as a dietetic intern. And there are recipes circulating around that use other vegetables instead of potatoes, such as cauliflower, broccoli, you name it! I wanted to make these more nutrient-dense by adding other veggies like shredded carrots and onions. I also had panko breadcrumbs, which I thought would be an interesting twist on the traditional tater tot recipe that calls for Italian or plain breadcrumbs.  

I am very happy with how these little veggie bombs turned out! Not only do they pack on the veggies, but they are also colorful to look at. The first time I tested this recipe, I prepared a small batch and they flew off the plate! They are great as a snack or side dish. As a snack, I dip them in some ketchup (I like this one from Trader Joe’s or from Annie’s Naturals). I also had them as a side dish with a ham and cheese sandwich. I can assure you that if you make these to share with friends or family, they will be a big hit! 

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These crispy oven-baked broccoli tater tots are: 

  • Easy to make! You can mix all the ingredients in just one bowl. Hello less time for clean up! 
  • Customizable –you can switch up the cheese (shredded mozzarella for a milder flavor) or the dips (ketchup, ranch, cheese dip, or other).  
  • Kid-friendly (and approved by adults). Okay, and also perfect for St. Patrick’s Day because they are green and fun.   
  • Nutritious – loaded with veggies and oven-baked instead of fried to help absorb less fat during the cooking process.  
  • Crowd-pleasers.  

Do you recommend organic instead of conventional ketchup?

At first glance, you will notice that organic ketchup is darker in appearance than its conventional counterpart. This is in part due to how ketchup made from organic tomatoes has a higher content of antioxidants (notably lycopene). A 2011 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looked at the agronomic environment in which tomatoes are grown and how this impacted their antioxidant content. The study found that antioxidant concentration in organic tomatoes was significantly higher than the non-organic.  

Another reason I recommend the organic variety is taste. As I mentioned, you will notice that organic ketchup has a darker, richer appearance; which reflects on its taste too. The organic tomatoes give the ketchup a more robust flavor that, in my opinion, is superior to the flavor of the conventional variety. Of course, feel free to use what you have on hand as a dip.  

Now on to our recipe for today! 

Ingredients

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  • 2 ½ cups of broccoli that has been blanched and finely chopped (I had a 28-ounce bag of broccoli florets and I used a little less than half of the bag) 
  • ½ cup of shredded carrots 
  • ½ cup chopped onion 
  • 3 tablespoons of minced garlic 
  • 1 and 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1 and 1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs 
  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Cooking spray 

Preparation

Start by bringing water to a boil in a medium-sized pan. When the water is boiling, bring it down to a gentle boil by lowering the flame to low-medium and add the broccoli florets. Leave the broccoli to blanch for about 2 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and finely chop on a cutting board. 

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In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic, cheddar cheese, panko bread crumbs, eggs, and salt and pepper. Mix well until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.  

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Pre-heat oven to 400ºF. Place parchment paper or silicone mats over baking sheets and spray with cooking spray.  

After the 15-minutes have passed, take broccoli and cheese mixture out from the fridge and start shaping into small tater-tot shapes (I made mine a bit thick, about 1 ½” long and 1” in diameter). Place them in the baking sheets and spray them with some more cooking spray on top.  

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Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes. When ready, these should have a golden-brown crust on the outside.

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And there you have it!

Do you think you will make this recipe to enjoy as a side dish or on its own as a snack?

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