Basic Broccolini: A Fast and Healthy Side Dish

by Sally on March 5, 2012 · 2 comments

in Basics and How-To, Gluten-free, Side Dishes, The Daniel Plan, Vegan Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

For a quick, easy and healthy dinner side, try broccolini. In less than three minutes, plus the time to get water to a boil, you’ll have one of my weeknight go-to side dishes on the table. But don’t serve it plain. Add a drizzle of good oil, some herbs or spices and you have a versatile and delicious vegetable packed with nutrition.

The woman standing next to me in the produce aisle looked puzzled. I was bagging up a couple of bundles of organic broccolini. I said “its really good! Have you ever tried it?” She shook her head, so I shared my simple directions on how to cook it. She smiled, grabbed her own bundles and happily went about her grocery shopping. I love to talk with people at the grocery store.

Broccolini or Broccolette – One in The Same

If you are not familiar with broccolini, here’s a quick overview. Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and a variety of Chinese kale. It comes in both banded bundles and wrapped packages. It’s also known by other names at the market, like broccolette or baby broccoli (which it is not).

Broccolini has a subtly sweet, mild flavor similar to broccoli and asparagus. The stems are long and slender compared to broccoli, and they are tender when cooked so there is little waste. The entire stalk is edible.

A Superfood to Add to Your Diet

In terms of nutrition, both broccoli and kale are “superfoods”, so it makes sense that broccolini would be as well. Superfoods are foods that are naturally concentrated with high amounts of nutrients. They are nutritional powerhouses and highly beneficial to include in our diets.

Broccolini belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family. This group contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which is an antioxidant. It exhibits anticancer, anti-diabetic, and antimicrobial properties and is high in vitamin C and fiber, just to name a few benefits. See links below for more information.

How to Prepare Broccolini

To prepare, trim a little off the stems end and slice any thick spears from top to bottom into a thinner piece. That’s it.

Broccolini cooks quickly.  Simply drop trimmed spears into a big pan of boiling salted water for about 2 ½ minutes. Drain and remove to your plate. You can dress it simply in a variety of ways to vary flavors.

I often use just a little good olive oil, which allows the sweet fresh flavor of the broccolini to shine.  Here are other ideas:

  • Asian flair – use a little toasted sesame oil. Sprinkle with Penzeys Szechuan Pepper Salt for extra flavor.
  • Italian flair – use white truffle oil for an aromatic indulgence. Drizzle your broccolini with white truffle oil and season with white truffle salt and pepper. My husband says white truffle oil would make a rubber tire taste good. It’s amazing stuff that instantly transforms the simple into the extravagant. And a sprinkle of Parmesan would be good too.
  • For a citrus flavor – use lemon olive oil. Drizzle your broccolini with a lemon-flavored olive oil and sprinkle with Lemon Pepper or Florida Seasoned Pepper.  Add little chopped chives for additional flavor .
  • For a spicy option – use a chili oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes or Piment D’Espelette

How to Buy

When buying broccolini, look for fresh, vibrant green bundles or packages. If the florettes are starting to yellow, pass. And you can always tell if produce is organic by the code number. Organic produce always starts with the number 9. One more thing about broccolini, it stays fresh for many days in the refrigerator. I always have it in my refrigerator for a fast, healthy side dish.

One more tip – to prepare broccolini ahead of time, cook broccolini for 2 minutes and shock in a bowl of ice water. Drain and refrigerate. When ready to eat, warm it up again in a hot sauté pan with your oil and, adding a little garlic or shallot for added pizzazz. That’s what I did this evening served with roast chicken breasts.

Basic Broccolini: A Fast and Healthy Side Dish

Fast, easy, healthy, and tastes good. What more could you want? Bring a pot of water to a boil and this is done before you can set the table. Broccolini also goes by the names of broccolette and baby broccoli at the market, but it’s really a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. Dress it in many way with oils, herbs and spices.

Yield: 3-4 servings, depending on how you trim

Ingredients

  • 2 bundles or wrapped packages of broccolini or broccolette
  • salt, pepper and oil to taste
  • Dressing options: olive oil, white truffle oil, lemon olive oil, chili oil, herbs and spices. See my notes in the post for flavor options.

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it’s coming to a boil, trim the broccolini. When water is boiling, add a generous amount of salt, abut a tablespoon to 4-5 quarts of water.
  2. Drop broccolini into boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes. Drain immediately and dress with salt, pepper, other seasoings and oil to taste.

Other helpful links:

I buy organic broccolette grown by Earthbound Farm, organic farmers for more than 25 years. Here is a link to their site and more information on the nutrition of broccolette.

For spice and pepper blends from Penzey’s, here is a link to their site.

Tonight, my broccolini went along with seared and roast chicken breasts, recipe here.

Additional information on the properties of sulforaphane, from Wikipedia and from Phytochemicals.

From The Daniel Plan site, information on Broccoli being a superfood

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sally March 9, 2012 at 6:02 am

I think I served broccoli to my son almost every day of his early childhood–he never burned out, but I sure did! Broccolini, however, is something I never tire of. It hardly needs any embellishment, but I love your suggestions. And as you say, it couldn’t be easier (or healthier).

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2 Dan Kissel March 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I’m going to try it tonight…..thanks for the cooking tip

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