Years from now, when this pandemic is over and we have a vaccine and a competent president and accessible, affordable healthcare for all, I’m going to look back these months of lockdown and remember them as the time I learned to love roasted broccolini. Okay, maybe broccolini won’t be the first thing that comes to mind. But it’ll be in there somewhere. In the “Before Times,” I never really used broccolini much — you get more bang for your buck from broccoli. But twice now my grocery delivery has brought broccolini instead of broccoli and you know what? It turns out I actually love broccolini.
In case you’ve also found yourself the recipient of unexpected broccolini, I figured I’d write down what I’ve done with it, so you can try it too.
Unlike its big-headed cousin, broccolini requires absolutely no complicated trimming and chopping and breaking down and scraping tiny little buds off your cutting board. And while I’ve already written about how to get the most out of a head of broccoli by saving the stalks to make soup, broccolini stalks don’t need any special or separate treatment to render them edible beyond a quick snip at the base of the stem. Don’t confuse broccolini with broccoli rabe, either — broccoli rabe is bitter and more closely related to turnips than it is to broccoli.
Broccolini is slender and slightly droopy, and needs barely any help to become a totally delicious side dish. It has a mellow-sweet broccoli flavor, and the stems and buds are crunchy and satisfying in their own unique ways.
The simplest way to prepare broccolini is to toss it with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast it at 425 for about 20-25 minutes. That’s the bare minimum. But as much as I love simplicity, I also love putting my spice drawer to use when I can. So I’ve added a little cumin, some crushed red pepper flakes, freshly grated parmesan cheese, some torn fresh dill (which I grow in my aerogarden) too.
Finally, while roasted broccolini is great on its own, I love pairing salty, slightly bitter roasted vegetables with cool yogurt dipping sauces. In this case, I’ve added lemon juice and zest, finely minced shallot, salt and pepper, a pinch of asafoetida (see notes, below) and topped it with toasted walnuts for a nutty, earthy crunch.
some cooking & ingredient notes
- Though I’ve included measurements in the recipe below, consider them a ballpark estimate — I don’t usually measure, I just shake and sprinkle and toss until I’m satisfied. Feel free to adjust and experiment as needed to suit your tastes.
- I first learned about asafoetida (aka “hing”) from Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish cookbook (which I’ve previously recommended here). It’s a pale yellow, funky-smelling powder that, as far as I understand it, basically enhances the other spices in your cooking. I use it in lots of my cooking now, and especially in yogurt sauces and dips. If you’re curious you can read more about it or buy it online in very small quantities to give it a try. I use pinches of it any time I’m working with Indian spices or flavors and in literally every yogurt sauce I make.
cumin roasted broccolini with lemon yogurt sauce
- 1 bunch broccolini
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- ¾ tsp cumin
- ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2 sprigs fresh dill, torn (or 1/2 tsp dried dill weed)
- ½ tsp salt (1 tsp if using diamond crystal kosher salt)
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- ½ small shallot (minced)
- ¼ tsp lemon zest
- juice from half a lemon
- 1 pinch asafoetida (optional, see notes)
- 2 tsp finely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the lower middle position.
- Wash and dry the broccolini. Remove any wilted leaves. Trim the bottom ¼" of the stems.
- Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and arrange the broccolini in a single layer.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes. Use a heavier hand with the seasonings over the blossom ends of the broccolini rather than the stems. Toss the broccolini on the sheet pan with your hands so they're all evenly coated, then arrange them back into a single layer on the pan.
- Sprinkle parmesan and dill (if using) over the blossom ends of the broccolini.
- Cook for 20 minutes, until the edges of the broccolini are crispy and slightly blackened.
- While the broccolini cooks, make the yogurt sauce by combining greek yogurt minced shallot, lemon zest and juice, asafoetida (if using), and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toast the nuts in a bare skillet over medium heat until they take on a slightly darker color and become quite fragrant.
- Remove the broccolini from the oven and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the yogurt sauce over the stems, then top with the toasted walnuts, or serve it as a dipping sauce on the side with the toasted walnuts on top.
- I first learned about asafoetida (aka “hing”) from Priya Krishnah’s Indian-ish cookbook (which I’ve recommended here). It’s a pale yellow, funky-smelling powder that, as far as I understand it, basically enhances the other spices in your cooking. If you’re curious you can read more about it or buy it online in very small quantities to give it a try.