Broccolini – A “New” Vegetable


 Earlier this season I saw my dear friend Vito growing what looked like broccoli in his garden.  They are fairly large plants, basically the size of a small shrub.   Because he is a native of Calabria, his English is limited and he referred to it as broccoli, but its actually Broccolini.

Broccolini is similar and often mistaken for broccoli because of its green color and appearance. Broccolini has smaller florets and long, thin stalks.   It is actually a cross between broccoli and the Chinese broccoli known as kai-lan. The flavor of broccolini is sweet with notes of both broccoli and asparagus, but much more tender after a shorter cooking time.

Today for lunch we had a LOT of broccolini as you can see from the plate, it was all good and served with Vito’s homemade wine we made last fall, some of the soprosatta he made over the winter, and of course some good Italian bread, peppers, olives, and other cold antipasti items.

You can probably eat this raw like most vegetables including broccoli, but it is best when its steamed, sauteéd, especially with olive oil, garlic, perhaps even some fresh lemon. Its almost like a cross between broccoli and broccoli rabe, very tender, delicious.

From Wikipedia: Broccolini is a registered trademark of Mann Packing Company, Inc. Its generic name is baby broccoli with product look up number 3277.  It is also known by the names Asparation, Asparations, Bimi, broccoletti, broccolette and Tender Stem. Sanbon Incorporated originated a commercial program for asparation in Mexico in 1994 and first brought it to the U.S. market in 1996. Mann Packing Company introduced the new vegetable to the US market in 1998. They grow the vegetable year round in California and Arizona. Today, you can find broccolini throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. The entire vegetable is consumable, including the occasional yellow flower. Rather delicate, common cooking methods include sauteing, steaming, boiling, and stir frying. Broccolini is high in vitamins A & C, calcium, folate and iron.

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