The next time you find yourself wandering down the produce aisles of your local grocery store, don’t shy away from the green veggies that many of us hated as kids.
Broccolini, also called baby broccoli or tender-stem broccoli, is a hybrid vegetable derived from a Chinese broccoli and kale crossbreed.
Although it has similarities with traditional broccoli, it has a few distinguishing features. For example, longer and tender stalks and smaller florets.
The vegetable has gained popularity in the recent past for its distinct flavor. When grilled, it has a mild and slightly sweet taste, which is preferable for most people compared to the strong earthy flavor of traditional broccoli.
It also has numerous health benefits. For instance, it is rich in vitamins C, K, folate, antioxidants, and fiber. As such, it is a delectable vegetable that can add a twist to your grilling repertoire.
Broccolini can ultimately be a feast for the senses as it is a vibrant vegetable with enchanting properties, when made correctly, can turn even the biggest cynic into a veggie believer.
To grill broccolini to absolute perfection, turn the vegetable often and wait until it is golden brown and perfectly caramelized.
Choosing and Cleaning Broccolini
When scouring broccolini bunches at the store or farmers’ market, you want to choose fresh and vibrant bunches to achieve the best grilled broccolini. Not only is fresh broccolini potent with nutrients, but it is also rich in flavor.
Here are some of my tips for choosing fresh broccolini:
- Fresh broccolini has a vibrant green color. Avoid bunches that are yellowish or appear dull. This coloring indicates that they have been on the shelves too long and have lost their freshness.
- Examine the stalks to ensure that they are firm and crisp. They should not be wilted or rubbery. The florets should be closely packed and compact. If they have begun to separate, it is a sign of overripeness.
- Check the leaves attached to the stalk. They should be vibrant and crisp without signs of wilting or discoloration.
- Examine the cut ends. They should appear fresh and moist rather than discolored and dry.
- Smell the broccolini for freshness. It should smell fresh with a slightly sweet aroma. Do not buy it if it has an unpleasant odor.
- Buy when in season. Broccolini is generally available all year round. However, the peak season is usually during summer and fall. During these seasons, you have a higher chance of getting fresh and flavorful bunches at fair prices.
The first step when preparing broccolini for grilling is cleaning them thoroughly to remove dirt, debris, and residual pesticides. Follow these easy steps to clean your broccolini:
- Fill a bowl or sink with cool water.
- Place the broccolini in the water, submerging each bunch completely.
- Avoid overcrowding the bowl or sink. You can do multiple rounds of the cleaning process.
- Gently swish the submerged broccolini to dislodge dirt and debris.
- Allow the broccolini to sit in the water for 5-10 minutes to let any stubborn dirt and debris loosen and any dirt settle at the bottom of the bowl or sink.
- Carefully remove the broccolini from the water, taking care not to stir up the dirt that has settled at the bottom.
- Rinse each bunch under cool running water as you gently rub the stalks and florets.
- Inspect the broccolini for cleanliness. Pay attention to the areas between the florets and crevices along the stalks.
- Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. You could also leave them to air dry. Make sure to dry the broccolini properly to prevent them from becoming soggy when grilling due to the excess moisture.
Trimming and Preparing Broccolini
After you finish cleaning your veggies, the next two steps when learning how to grill broccolini to perfection are trimming the stalks and cutting the broccolini into smaller pieces. Trust me, you don’t want to skip any steps here.
Examine the end of the stalks to establish if they need a good trim. If they appear dry, woody, or discolored, you should trim there. Also trim them if the stalks are too thick. This helps ensure they cook fast and evenly.
Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to trim them off. You want the remaining stalks to be about 3-4 inches long. Make a cut at a slight angle.
Next, cut the broccolini heads into smaller, more manageable pieces and cook them evenly. You may also cut them into halves or quarters. Alternatively, separate the stalks and florets.
You could even leave the broccolini whole, especially if they are small. It is a great way to showcase their long, tender stems, and makes for more impressive plating if you prefer a rustic presentation of this delicious grilled vegetable.
Recipe for Grilled Broccolini
- 1-2 bunches of broccolini
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Preferred seasonings
Method of preparation: Direct grilling
Cook time: 8-12 minutes
Grilling temperature: 400°F
- Preheat your grill for 10-15 minutes at 400°F.
- In the meantime, clean and dry the broccolini.
- Inspect the stalks and trim dry parts to achieve the desired length.
- Cut the broccolini into smaller, more manageable pieces if need be.
- Put them in a large bowl and drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil.
- Add kosher salt, black pepper, lemon juice, minced garlic, and any other seasonings you want. Red pepper flakes are also a great choice if you crave a bit of heat.
- Toss broccolini with seasonings or use a spoon to combine the ingredients until well mixed.
- Leave the combined ingredients to sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the seasonings to infuse into the broccolini.
- Preheat the grill and lay the broccolini in a single layer or place the veggies into a grill basket. The grill basket is useful if you cut the broccolini into small pieces. It prevents the veggies from falling through the grill grates. You can also use skewers. If you choose this route, soak the wooden skewers [Link to How Long Do You Soak Skewers – 3 Tips For Perfection] for 15 to 30 minutes beforehand to prevent them from burning on the grill.
- Grill the broccolini for 4-6 minutes on each side over medium-high heat until tender and slightly charred before flipping to the other side. Note that the cooking time may vary slightly depending on the size of the florets and the thickness and length of the stalks. Monitor the broccolini closely to ensure they cook properly without burning. To determine if the broccolini is well-done, look for visual indicators such as char marks and crispiness.
- Transfer the grilled broccolini onto a platter and garnish with lemon slices.
Serving and Enjoying
There are various ways to enjoy grilled broccolini. You can serve the broccolini as a side dish, incorporate it into salads or pasta dishes, use it as a pizza topping, or serve it on its own with a yummy dip.
Consider plating and garnishing your broccolini to enhance their visual appeal or flavor. Here are a few garnishing and serving tips:
- Sprinkle freshly grated lemon zest over the broccolini for a pop of color or a hint of citrusy taste.
- Finely chop fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, or basil, and sprinkle generously over the grilled broccolini.
- Garnish with crushed nuts like almonds or hazelnuts to add crunchiness.
- Mix with other colorful vegetables to create a visually appealing display of deliciousness.
- Drizzle your favorite sauce over the broccolini.
- Try out different garnishes—like lemon slices—and presentation styles to identify what you like best.
Grilled broccolini is delicious and is sure to become your new veggie obsession!
How to Grill Broccolini FAQ
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