Most people tend to source broccoli, a winter favorite, for the crown portion, although there are those who are more drawn to the flavor and texture of the stems.
When cooking fresh broccoli, I tend to use it in its entirety, with both the florets and connected base finding their way into stir-fry’s, roasted veggie trays, soups and salads. The florets, or crown portion of the broccoli plant, act somewhat like a sponge, soaking up any surrounding sauce, seasoning or broth used in the preparation, then slowly released in every tender bite. In contrast, the stem portion delivers a nice subtle crunch to the meal, along with a noticeable sweetness and nutty presence.
Broccoli is a very versatile vegetable that I incorporate into my meals at least a few times a week, particularly during the winter when it’s truly in its prime.
Lately, however, I have been additionally drawn to a very similar vegetable of which both the stem and floret portion is equally enjoyed: broccolini.
Unlike broccoli, which has a relatively thick stem base, broccolini consists of long thin stalks and a more feathery top. Typically much sweeter than broccoli, it can be cooked in a similar fashion as its counterpart.
My favorite method recently has been to simply sear it off in a hot pan until just cooked through, finished with some garlic towards the end of the cooking process.
I love to incorporate local mushrooms and peppers, when they’re available, to the pan, although I must say the broccolini is quite delicious all on its own.
Seared Garlic Broccolini
1 bunch broccolini
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan style cheese
Trim the base end of your broccolini. Some of the thicker pieces may need to be cut in half lengthwise. Place garlic in a small bowl and submerge with the olive oil. Let sit for about 15 minutes.
In a large sauté pan, bring to high heat and pour the oil from the garlic into the pan, saving the garlic for later use. Once the pan is hot, add broccolini in a single layer, season lightly with salt and pepper, and sear for about 2 minutes.
If using mushrooms and/or peppers, you can add those the same time as the broccolini. Then flip the broccolini and cook for another minute before adding the garlic.
Toss and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, or until the broccolini is just cooked through. Finish it with shaved or grated Parmesan style cheese. Serve hot.
Yield: Serves 2 to 3 sides.