Healthy Cooking

How To Cook Broccolini, the Most Perfect Hybrid Vegetable

Rebecca Norris

Photo: StocksyJesse Morrow
Broccolini was developed as a non-genetically modified hybrid between broccoli and Chinese broccoli back in 1993. Also known as Chinese kale, Chinese broccoli is more elongated in shape, which is why broccolini has an asparagus-like silhouette. Shape aside, the inventors of broccolini hoped to offer a sweeter, tastier vegetable—both broccoli and Chinese broccoli are on the mild-to-bitter side of flavor profiles. Another reason for broccolini’s creation is rooted in sustainability. While you can technically eat broccoli and Chinese broccoli stems, many people toss them aside, opting instead for the flowery head and leaves. Broccolini, on the other hand, was designed to be eaten in full. In that way, it helps reduce waste.

Folks were so intrigued by the development of broccolini that it’s earned rave reviews since its invention. Which brings us to the here and now. Today, broccolini remains a staple in diets rich in greens. However, if you’ve yet to make room for the slender stalks, there’s a good chance that you’re not yet familiar with all their benefits. To help shed a little light, New York-based registered dietitian Jennnifer Maeng, MS, RD, of Chelsea Nutrition explains everything you need to know about broccolini, including how to cook it.

Is broccolini healthy?

Broccolini is the perfect hybrid veggie for a number of reasons. First off, Maeng says that it offers an abundance of nutritional benefits—namely, its high fiber content. A single cup of broccolini offers 3.7 grams of fiber, which Maeng says directly assists with satiety and digestion as well as feeding good gut bacteria. What’s more, broccolini is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and B vitamins.

“Due to broccolini’s vitamin A content, it can help prevent eye diseases as well as support bone health and skin,” says Maeng. “The abundant source of vitamin C in broccolini helps support the immune system, growth, and repair of body tissues. Vitamin C is also essential for collagen synthesis. Adding sources of vitamin C to your diet will also help aid in your body’s absorption of iron.”

But that’s not all. Broccolini is also rich in minerals. “Calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, selenium, magnesium, and manganese are found in broccolini,” Maeng says, noting that due to broccolini can help prevent cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, weak bones, iron deficiency, anemia, and oxidative damage to cells.

How to cook broccolini

Beyond its nutrients, Maeng says that broccolini is a "convenient" veggie because it can be prepared in many different ways and requires less time than regular broccoli to do so.

“Broccolini can be sauteed, steamed, grilled, and roasted,” she says. “A popular way to prepare broccolini is to saute it with garlic, olive oil, a dash of salt, and finish it with a squeeze of lemon. A simple combination of ingredients, however, a powerfully tasty dish.”

Hoping for a bit more flavor? Maeng says that another way to prepare it is to roast it in the oven with garlic, olive oil, and your seasoning of choice: lemon, red pepper flakes, herbs, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and/or chopped toasted nuts.

Roasted Broccolini

Ingredients
2 bunches of broccolini
2 Tbsp olive oil
Generous pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Optional
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp pine nuts
Squeeze of lemon juice and/or 1/2 tsp lemon zest

1. Heat oven to 400°F
2. Toss broccolini with olive oil, salt and pepper (and optional ingredients if desired) in a large bowl
3. Spread seasoned broccolini onto a large baking dish in a single layer
4. Roast for 15-25 minutes until crispy at the edges

But don’t think you have to eat it on its own. “One of my favorite ways to cook with broccolini is to saute it with ground chicken and simmer in marinara sauce to make really delicious ragu for pasta,” says Maeng. And like most delicious vegetables, you can't go wrong with an egg on top.

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