Okay, as Denise and I raved on Friday, it is officially citrus season up here in New England, which means someone has trucked citrus fruit all the way up to the frozen north. After two years of just eating or juicing the citrus, I’m finally starting to try cooking with them beyond. I’ve been marinating and dressing and mixing and playing and it’s brilliant. Let me share my favorite side dish so far.
Broccolini was kind of a cheat for me. I could happily eat broccoli every single day and not get too bored, but it seems like we should eat more than just one vegetable, right? So the other night when I was tempted to pick up more broccoli at the store, I decided on a bunch of broccolini instead. Turns out that broccolini is not just a different stage of broccoli’s growth. Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and another vegetable I’m not particularly familiar with (kai-lan, an Asian vegetable I’ve never cooked). A quick internet search tells me it was developed in the early 1990s and made it to the US in the late ’90s. It has tender stems and less dense tops, and it’s a nice variation on broccoli. The flavor is pretty similar, but greener and more mild.
This recipe cooks both the long tender stems and the tops, but adding the stems first so they will be done when the tops are, with neither part overdone. It also takes two pans, but I think it’s worth it. I’ve cooked the sauce first and set it aside while cooking the broccolini. When chopping up the broccolini, I’ve pulled off all the “tops” that are on lower stems, too.
Blood Orange Broccolini
- 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance or other safe-for-you fat or oil (if you are not using a margarine or butter, add a pinch of salt to your oil)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
- 3 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed blood orange juice (about 1/2 an orange)
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 bunch broccolini, stems and tops chopped separately
Melt your Earth Balance in a small skillet or sauce pan over medium low heat. When foamy, turn the heat a notch or two on your stove — you want basically the point between low and medium, wherever that is for you. Add the garlic, stir well, and cook over this low heat for about 10 minutes or so. Garlic should be caramel brown when you’re done. Remove from heat and set aside. When it’s no longer hot, stir in the blood orange juice.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the broccolini stems and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. I’ll be honest — I almost never remember to measure salt in cooking (baking is different). I just added a large pinch. When the stems start to get a little browned, stir in the tops and another pinch of salt. Keep stirring every few minutes until the stems and tops are just barely fork-tender.
Add the sauce, stir well, and heat it all together for 2 or 3 minutes. Scrape the pan well to get all the garlicky goodness out and stir to coat all the broccolini well.