Broccolini, Like Broccoli But Better
There, I said it. Better. Broccoli is wonderful, but when you cross it with Gai Lan, it is even better. I hope broccoli won’t take it personally, but for the moment, I’m smitten with broccoli’s child.
I’ve been a big fan of Gai Lan for many years. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s the featured green at Dim Sum restaurants, where it arrives simply stir fried in a bit of oyster sauce. You can buy it at Asian groceries, and some farmer’s markets. It’s worth seeking out. Gai Lan is mostly leaves, with just a few little florets to tip you off that it is kin to broccoli. The flavor is sweet and cruciferous, with fewer of the bitter notes of say, kale or collards.
According to Wikipedia, broccolini was developed over an eight year effort to hybridize the two plants. Sakata Seed company created it, and it came to California in 1998, and has been growing in popularity ever since. There’s even new purple broccolini, which I have seen here in the summer.
Of course, with parentage like that, broccolini has all the healthy benefits of the brassica family. High in Vitamins C and A, loaded with fiber, and with Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, iron and protein, it’s a healthy vegetable. Like its parents, it’s also graced with plenty of antioxidants like sulforaphane and carotenoids, which help ward of inflammation and are helpful in preventing certain cancers.
Above all It Tastes Great
I love broccolini in stir fries, salads, and on pizza. But I really love to roast it. Because the stems and slender, like asparagus, it roasts quickly. Unlike broccoli, you don’t have to peel the stems, so it takes longer to pre-heat the oven than it does to cut it up. Once you roast it, you can serve it as a side, or toss it with pasta for a delicious meal.
Roasted Broccolini and Shallots
- 2 bunches broccolini
- 1 large shallot
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.Get a sheet pan. On a cutting board, cut the shallot into thin wedges. Cut the broccolini into 3-inch long florets and then slice the stemsin 3/4-1/2 inch pieces, discarding the bases.Place the shallots and broccolini on the sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes and toss well to coat.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes to brown the tips of the broccolini. Transfer to a platter and serve.