Tender & Sweet: Broccolini

Vegetable Spotlight

Broccoli-haters take note. Broccoli-lovers, too. Broccolini may just be the great green equalizer.

Broccolini is not baby broccoli, as you might expect. It's a cross between slender, leafy Chinese broccoli and the regular thick-stemmed broccoli many of us grew up loving (or vehemently not loving, as the case may be). The result is a thin-stemmed vegetable like Chinese broccoli, but with fewer leaves and larger clusters of florets like broccoli.

The flavor of broccolini is complex. It's less bitter than broccoli with a sweetness that's reminiscent of asparagus. It's a robust flavor, both earthy and grassy. When cooked, the stems take on a pleasantly chewy texture while the florets become tender.

The entire vegetable can be eaten, from the stems and the florets to the tiny yellow flowers that sometimes appear on mature vegetables. Broccolini can also be eaten raw or cooked. Best cooking techniques are a quick sauté in a hot pan with a little oil or a brief dip in some boiling water to blanch the stems. Broccolini can also be grilled, roasted, or steamed.

You can substitute broccolini in any recipe calling for dark greens or broccoli. It's also good all on its own with a drizzle of good olive oil and and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Spicy Roasted Broccolini Quinoa Salad from Design*SpongeTeriyaki-Glazed Tofu and Broccolini from GourmetBroccolini and Potato Frittata from Leite's Culinaria

Do you love broccolini? How do you cook with it?

Related: A Fresh Take: Broccoilini with Orecchiette and Beans

(Image: Flickr member Jules: Stone Soup licensed under Creative Commons)