What is broccolini?
Broccolini is a hybrid vegetable, developed by crossing broccoli with Kai-lan (Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale). Japanese seed company Sakata is credited for its development in 1993. This nutritious vegetable contains vitamins, folate, iron, potassium, and calcium among other nutrients. The other names used for broccolini include asparation, bimi, asparations, broccolette and broccoletti.
Broccolini is a spear-shaped vegetable with green stems not exceeding six inches in length. It has a loosely-structured head with a small bunch of florets similar to broccoli rabe. Tiny yellow flowers are occasionally visible on the mature vegetables.
This spring vegetable can be cooked or even eaten raw, with the entire part of the plant (stems, florets or flowers) being edible. Having a complex flavor, it is not as bitter as broccoli, containing the sweet taste of asparagus.
Given below is the nutritional data of half a cup (44g) of broccolini:
Rich in dietary fiber
The rich fiber content present in broccolini can help in digestion, also regulating bowel movements, maintaining blood sugar level as well as assisting in shedding your extra calories.
Studies conducted on dietary fibers in 2009, published in the journal “Nutrition Reviews” states that regular consumption of foods high in fiber, like broccolini, may help in preventing heart ailments, cholesterol, diabetes, hemorrhoids, ulcer and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Blood pressure management
Containing 4% of the daily value of potassium and 2% of the daily requirement of calcium, including this vegetable to your daily diet may be beneficial in regulating your blood pressure.
Bone development and maintenance
Broccolini has a considerable amount of Vitamin K present in it which is necessary for promoting calcium absorption in the body to build and strengthen bones. Therefore including this vegetable as a part of your daily diet along with other Vitamin K and calcium rich foods, may lead to a sound bone health, lessening the possibilities of osteoporosis and other bone-related problems.
High in Vitamin C
Broccolini contains about 65% of the RDA of Vitamin C, an effective antioxidant required to fight against free radicals, thus lessening the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also has antihistamine properties that that may help relieve common cold.
For the skin
The glucosinolate, glucoraphanin in this cruciferous vegetable can help the skin in detoxifying and repairing itself, preventing skin damage to some extent. Its antioxidant content also makes it potentially beneficial for reducing the signs of aging.
Boosts immunity power
This vegetable has a high amount of beta-carotene, certain trace minerals such as selenium, zinc and iron as well as Vitamin A – nutrients that contribute in stronger immunity while boosting metabolism.
Just like broccoli, broccolini too contains kaempferol, a kind of flavonoid with high anti-inflammatory properties, which has been shown to help our body to fight various allergies.
The presence of iron and folic acid in broccolini make it potentially beneficial for pregnant women. However, it is still safe to consult your doctor about all the vegetables included in your diet during your nine-month stint.
- Broccolini, needing less cooking time, is often sautéed and used with other vegetables to prepare various side dishes, such as seasoning it with lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Its sweet taste makes it a popular ingredient for salads. You can also decorate your salad preparation by adding its yellow florets.
- Because of its soft texture and crispy flavor, it can be added as one of the ingredients while preparing fried rice.
How to prepare broccolini
How to sauté
- Choose vegetables having a bright green hue
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the leaves as well as the thick stalk holding the bunch together.
- Rinse the stalks in cold water and gently dry them using paper towels.
- Add them to the frying pan, sprinkle salt to taste.
- Cook for about two and a half minutes if you desire for a tender but crispy flavor and up to five minutes in case you wish it to be softer without the crispiness.
How to roast
- Rinse the broccolini well to remove any loose particles
- Shake it in a gentle way to dry
- Trim the vegetable to 1-1.5 inch pieces prior to putting it on the baking sheet
- Add a little oil as well as salt and pepper
- Toss the ingredients together using your hands to let the broccolini get evenly coated
- Preheat your oven to a temperature of 425°F
- Bake it for about ten to fifteen minutes or slightly longer if you want it to get a brown color
How to steam
- Take a stockpot and fill it with water without reaching more than four inches of the container
- Boil the water at a high temperature
- Place a steamer basket inside the stock pot and make sure that it does not come in contact with water even when boiling (You can also use a metal colander instead of a steam basket)
- Put the vegetable into the steam basket and cover it as well as the stockpot
- Cook for about seven minutes till it softens
- Take out the vegetable and place it on the platter
- Season it as per your choice
- Whole-wheat Pasta with Broccolini and Feta
- Roasted Broccolini with Winey Mushrooms
- Sautéed Broccolini with Pine Nuts and Garlic
- Grilled Broccolini with Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumbs
- Oven Roasted Broccolini and Asparagus
- Sausage and Broccolini Risotto Recipe
- Baked Orzo with Broccolini, Sausage, and Fontina
- Roasted Broccolini and Baby Carrots with Kale Pesto
- Chicken Broccolini with Mustard Cream Sauce
Though broccolini is a different vegetable altogether, you can substitute it with broccoli or broccoli rabe. If you desire for something as sweet as broccolini, asparagus may be a good option.
Safety and side effects: Can broccolini be bad for you?
Though there are no known side effects of broccolini, over-consumption may result in flatulence and stomach problems. Avoid it if you are allergic to cruciferous vegetables or suffering from gastric irritation. Moreover, people having hypothyroidism may consider refraining from eating it, as this category of vegetables is said to come in the way of normal thyroid functioning.
Where to buy
Being available throughout the year, you can buy it in the farmers market or even online. Most groceries may also sell it in the name of baby broccoli.
How to store
Choose stalks having firm, deep green stems along with dark green heads, devoid of any yellow spots. Avoid the dried out ones with a wilted appearance. Wrap the stalks with a plastic sheet and store in the fruits and vegetable storage section of the refrigerator so it may stay fresh for about three to five days.
Broccolini vs. broccoli rabe
Though they are not the same, a lot of grocery stores use their names interchangeably due to the similarity in their flavor and appearance.
Broccolini is a long stemmed vegetable with large florets and less amount of leaves. On the other hand, broccoli rabe belongs to the turnip family, having small-sized florets and many leaves. Broccolini is sweet to taste whereas broccoli rabe has a somewhat bitter flavor.
- Broccolini seeds are quite hard to find in comparison to broccoli. However, it can be grown in a kitchen garden in areas with foggy weather and moderate summer temperatures.
- It is called “tenderstem broccoli” in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
- by Sean Northampton
- 9th November 2016
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