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You’ve seen it on grocery store shelves and on the menu of your favorite hip farm to table restaurant, but what even in the heck is broccolini?
Created in 1993 in Japan, broccolini is a hybrid of both broccoli, (your standard favorite cruciferous little trees famously paired with cheese) and Chinese broccoli (a leafy green veggie with a similar taste to broccoli.)
When it comes to flavor profiles, both broccoli and broccolini are similar, but broccolini has long thin stems, is less dense, includes tender leaves, and has a sweeter taste akin to asparagus. Like broccoli, broccolini is also high in fiber and vitamins C and A.
Both can be steamed, roasted, sautéd, blanched and either added as a side dish or as part of the main event!
Great Spice and Herb Pairings for Broccoli and Broccolini
- Basil paired with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
- Dill Weed
- Garlic (Minced, Granules or Powder)
- Ginger Powder with a splash of soy sauce
- Black Malabar Peppercorns and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Cayenne Pepper
- Sichuan Pepper and a drizzle of sesame oil
- Summer Savory
It’s definitely hard to find a spice or herb that doesn’t work with broccoli or broccolini. Any combination of garlic, salt, pepper and any classic herbs, (basil, rosemary, sage, parsley, tarragon, thyme, etc.,) is a surefire way to treat these veggies right.
You can also add lemon juice and grated or dried lemon peel to herbal and garlic blends to brighten it up.
It’s also fun to add a liquid sweetener like honey, agave, pure maple syrup or date syrup or spice it up with Sichuan pepper or cayenne.
Cheese and broccoli go together like peas and carrots (speaking of carrots, check this out), but if you haven’t tried nutritional yeast (funny name, but packed with lots of umami flavor) it is a great lower-calorie and/or vegan replacement for parmesan cheese.
Pinch’s Spice Blends That Make Broccoli and Broccolini Taste Amazing
Sprinkle these spices on your broccoli for extra taste without the extra calories:
- Buffy’s Slayer Helper: All organic blend of minced garlic, garlic granules, garlic powder, chili flakes, parsley, sea salt, and basil
- Madras-Style Curry Powder*: A classic blend of cayenne chili, turmeric, fenugreek and Ceylon cinnamon
- Everything on Everything: Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, minced onion and salt
- Herbs de Provence*: Versatile traditional French sophistication with basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, marjoram, tarragon, and a hint of floral lavender
- Sage & Truffle Popcorn Sprinkle: Not just for popcorn! Earthy black truffle salt, balck peppercorn, sage, summer savory, and sea salt
- Veggie Sprinkle: Not just a clever name! Lemon zest, garlic, green peppercorns, grey salt, summer savory, sesame seed, Herbs de Provence, celery seed, and ginger
- Mrs. Pinch All Purpose Seasoning*: All organic and salt free with minced onion, coriander, granulated onion, celery seed, sumac, onion powder, dill weed, black pepper, and dill seed
- Pinch Valley Ranch: A dry organic mix so you can make a chemical-free and yummy ranch dip for that broccoli (heads up that this blend is not vegan because it has buttermilk)
*Salt-free spice blend
The Best Ways to Cook Broccoli and Broccolini
That’s right! Eat it raw.
Add a tablespoon of Pinch Valley Ranch (with Buttermilk) to plain Greek yogurt and mix, then dip those leafy trees in and munch away!
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the florets approximately 1-2 minutes. In a separate bowl filled with water and ice, add the boiled florets.
This will result in a bright green and crisp texture that is good for salads, veggie platters, and quick side dishes. After 1-2 minutes, add your desired butter, oil, salt and spices.
This can be done in the microwave or on the stove top.
In a microwave safe-dish, add the florets and add 2-3 tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid or microwave safe dinner plate that covers the dish. Microwave on High for 3-4 minutes and let sit for 1 minute before checking doneness. Microwave in additional 1 minute intervals until desired doneness. Drain any remaining water, and add your desired butter, oil, salt and spices.
On the stove, you will need a steamer basket. Depending on your basket configuration, add enough water to where it is not touching the bottom of the basket. (Usually, this is an inch or two of water.) Bring to a boil, add the florets to the steamer basket and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add any butter, oil, salt and seasonings.
Wash and dry your florets fully. On medium-high to high heat, add your cooking oil, (olive, coconut, avocado, spray oil,) and add the florets and seasonings, tossing to coat them in oil.
Stir frequently until florets are bright green and tender. Remove from heat and enjoy.
Set oven temperature to 425 degrees. Wash and dry the florets thoroughly. Lay out florets on a foil lined sheet pan with sides.
Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite cooking oil and add your desired salt and seasoning. Use a spatula or clean hands to toss the florets until coated with oil and seasonings.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, (watch carefully to make sure it’s not getting too brown.) Flores should be crunchy and will have some brown caramelized parts.
High-Heat Roasting for Crunchiness
For some extra crunch, put a baking sheet in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees. It’s important the pan gets real hot.
Toss the broccoli or broccolini with a high heat cooking oil and your favorite spice/blend, throw it on the pan and roast for 15-20 minutes until it’s nice and charred.
Similar to roasting, only I find it’s easier to mix the florets with the cooking oil and seasonings beforehand in a large bowl.
Set air fryer temperature to 375 degrees and air fry florets for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring and checking doneness at the halfway mark.
Important note here: Broccoli will generally take more time than broccolini, so make sure to check on them as they’re air frying.
While broccoli can be an acquired taste, I’m positive that you can turn any nay-sayer into a “yay!”-sayer with any of these organic spices and variety of cooking methods!