Back in the Barrio, when times were lean, Brocoli con Salsa was a cheapy weekday dinner. Basically it’s broccoli cooked with tomato sauce and spices. Depending on where you came from, it was also called Brocoli Guisado (stewed broccoli). Normally, in our family, we served it with rice. Once in a while we substituted spaghetti for the rice. In the version given below we served it with penne pasta and black olives, topped with grated cheese. Let me add you can substitute any preferred pasta be it noodles or shells. Your choice. The dish makes for an inexpensive and filling vegetarian dinner that even carnivores will love. We’ve come a long ways from Spanish Harlem but this dish, then and now, is a winner. With some crusty bread and a good wine, preferably Chianti, it can’t be beat.

Note that this dish includes that archetypical Puerto Rican flavoring, sofrito. Today you can find sofrito in almost any store or supermarket. It’s become ubiquitous. In our family, we still make it from scratch. If you need a good recipe, you can go to my post of 11/08/10, or my video on Spanish Rice (07/11/14). If all else fails, then substitute 2 teaspoons turmeric and add a chicken bouillon cube to the sauce.

(Sauced Broccoli)


1 bunch fresh broccoli
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
9 whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2½  cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sofrito
½ cup black olives, halved
Grated Parmesan cheese or cheese of choice


  1. Wash broccoli under cold running water.
  2. Curt off the florets and chop the top half of the stems into small bite-sized pieces.
  3.  Put garlic, oregano, peppercorns and salt in a mortar. Pound with a pestle until crushed. Add olive oil and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add seasoning and broccoli to a large skillet or frying pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons water and cook for 3 minutes more or until water evaporates.
  5.  Add tomato sauce and stir in sofrito. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover pan and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  6.  Add olives, stir to combine, and serve immediately with penne or rice. If using pasta, top with grated cheese.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.