After I gave birth, my neighbor Liling brought over food, including a side of broccolini. We are a house of broccoli lovers, especially Rice Kernel. (In one of his favorite books, The Berenstein Bears’ Go Out To Eat, he never understands why Mama Bear has a hard time getting her cubs to order and eat their broccoli.) But as much as we enjoy and cook broccoli, we often neglect its cousin, broccolini, which has similar, but subtedly different, texture and taste profiles.
Much more tender and slightly peppery with none of broccoli’s cabbage-like flavor, broccolini is a more elegant vegetable. It is a hybrid cross between broccoli and Chinese gai lan (also known as Chinese broccoli). It has long, slender, juicy green stalks with tiny clusters of florets and is less fibrous than broccoli. So there’s no peeling of the stalk necessary here! This is a simple recipe to serve as a side dish – you can add a dash of red wine vinegar – or top with some toasted breadcrumbs for flavor and crunch.
2 pounds Broccolini (about 4 bunches)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Broccolini and cook until bright green and barely crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil with the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, add the Broccolini and toss to coat with the oil. Add the reserved cooking water and toss occasionally, until the Broccolini is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.