- Servings: 4.
Broccolini is an increasingly popular vegetable. Sometimes also called baby broccoli, in fact it's a hybrid of broccoli and gai lan, also called Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. For me, broccolini's flavor is more interesting and sweeter than regular broccoli, plus its flowers are smaller and easier to eat. If vegetables can be described in terms of their refinement, broccolini is more refined than broccoli.
Because its stalks are longer and more tender than conventional broccoli, broccolini is more versatile in the ways it can be cooked. It can be steamed, sautéed, boiled, or stir-fried. But I like to roast it because high heat intensifies its flavor and I also like how the smaller flowers can get charred, crispy, and develop a deeper color.
Resist adding whole garlic to this recipe because the broccolini will cook far faster than any garlic cloves, leaving it partially or completely raw. Instead I prefer to add flavor with lemon, red pepper flakes, or grated cheese.
Taking this simple recipe a step further, once the stalks are cooked, you can then toss the stalks with pasta -- long ones like fettuccine or buccatini are good choices -- to make a very satisfying weeknight supper, or pile the broccolini onto slices of grilled crusty bread to make crostini.
The stalks will shrink a bit as they cook so make more than you think you'll need. I find I never can make too much.
- 4 bunches of broccolini
- 2 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- Red pepper flakes (about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste)
- 1/2 lemon (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Wash and trim the stalks, removing any leaves and thick stalks.
- Arrange the broccolini in a single layer in a large rimmed sheet pan.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle the salt and red pepper flakes over the stalks. With your clean hands, toss so that everything is distributed. Rearrange the stalks into a single layer again.
- Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes total until the stalks are tender and the flowers are crispy but not burnt. Turn the stalks over halfway through the cooking to help them cook evenly.
- Remove from the oven and if you like, while still hot, squeeze the fresh lemon over the stalks. Alternatively, you can sprinkle grated cheese over the still hot broccolini. Use tongs to toss (your hands might still be clean but the pan is now hot).
- Serve immediately or at room temperature.