Broccolini is definitely a favorite, but then again, there are not many vegetables I don’t love. This recipe for broccolini with candied pecans was a no-brainer for me, the perfect blending of a few simple things I’m fond of. But broccolini is a confusing vegetable for some. To start, it isn’t baby broccoli. So, what is broccolini, anyway?
To clarify, broccolini is not broccoli rabe either, but is sure looks like it could be. Surprisingly, broccolini is actually more closely related to broccoli as it is more mild. Broccolini, like broccoli, belongs is in the brassica family, along with another favorite of mine, Brussels sprouts.
Broccolini is actually something simpler, it’s a cross-breed of broccoli and Chinese broccoli, a leafy vegetable commonly referred to as “gai lan” in Cantonese or “jie lan” in Mandarin. With broccolini you get delicate baby florets, similar to broccoli florets, and the longer stems and leaves found in Chinese broccoli. But in all honesty, it’s a rather perfect mixture of the two.
Flavor-wise, broccolini falls somewhere in the middle. Less bitter than regular broccoli, with a subtle mild sweetness of Chinese broccoli mixed in. So what you get with broccolini is great texture; a lovely crunch from the tender stems and the perfect balance of buds.
Cooking with broccolini is effortless as It require a lot less prep and minimal cooking time. While there are many cooking options for this hybrid vegetable, in this recipe for broccolini with candied pecans I prefer a blanch and quick sauce to highlight the crunchiness and maintain that beautiful bold green color. The candied pecans and pomegranate seeds get tossed in at the end and take this hybrid favorite to a whole new playing field of deliciousness. This is a great vegetable side dish for fall and would make a perfect paring for any holiday meal.
Broccolini With Candied Pecans
- For the Candied Pecans:
- 1 cup pecans
- 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch ground nutmeg
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
- For the Broccolini:
- 4 bunches broccolini, about 1 1-/2-inch pieces of the top parts only
- 3 tablespoons extra Virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- candied pecans
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish
- Step 1 For the Candied Pecans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set near your work station.
- Step 2 Place the pecans on the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, use your hands to toss and help coat the pecans evenly. Sprinkle the pecans with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and drizzle with maple syrup. Toss to coat.
- Step 3 Place int he oven and bake, stirring once, for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Step 4 For the Broccolini: Place the broccolini tops in a large sauce pan and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and set aside.
- Step 5 Place the saucepan back over medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot but not smoking, add the blanched broccolini and cook, stirring occasionally until heat through, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer till fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt, pepper to taste, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey and mix well.
- Step 6 To serve, place the broccolini on a serving platter, top with pomegranate seeds and a generous amount of chopped candied pecans.
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