Steamed Broccolini with Orange Ginger Dressing

When it comes to a green vegetable that is as elegant as it is delicious, broccolini tops the list! It's low in fat but packed with flavor and essential nutrients. Whenever I see it at the farmer's market or supermarket, I always swoop some up. I tried to grow it one year, but not in an ideal location. It bolted before we got to harvest any. The plants are sweet though and made excellent juicing material... no waste!

Broccolini is a relatively new member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, entering the market in the early 1990's as the result of crossbreeding broccoli with Kai-lan (Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale). The florets are not as tight as broccoli, and sometimes the buds will be just about to open. This is exactly when you want to eat it. The stalks are thinner, longer and more tender than broccoli too, with small leaves attached. The entire plant is edible; the stalks do not need to be peeled.

Broccolini is milder and sweeter than broccoli too, making it a good choice for those who may not care for the taste of broccoli. I think it tastes more like asparagus than broccoli, and is one of the few cooked green vegetables I enjoy eating cold!

Broccolini is delicious roasted, grilled, steamed, or steamed and then stir fried. I've kept it simple for this recipe, a brief steam, a plunge into an ice bath, drain and serve with Orange Ginger Dressing and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. It makes a delicious cold dish!

Broccolini is most often served with lemon and garlic, but when Cara-Cara oranges came into season I chose to change things up a bit.

You can find my Orange Ginger Dressing HERE, and below for convenience. We can't get started without my extolling the nutritional virtues of this vegetable, at least a little bit. You probably already know broccolini is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, and a good source of vitamin A, folate, manganese and fiber... it's even got some protein (2.6g/cup).

Broccolini, just like all cruciferous vegetables, is full of cancer-fighting phytochemicals too. You can read plenty more HERE. Like many other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli has long been studied for its well-documented health benefits. Yet it belongs to the family of vegetables that, for many, require convincing to give it a go. According to one Australian study, repeated exposure to the disease-fighting benefits of cruciferous vegetables is required before health will trump hedonic considerations... and even then, it might be a stretch.

So basically, my job is two-fold: give you the short version of WHY you may want to include this plant in your diet, AND make it so tasty you keep eating it!

Challenge accepted!

Let's get started!

Total Time: 30 minutes (plus 2 hrs soaking time for the dressing) Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 5 minutes PRINT HERE.

Here's what you need for 6 servings:

For the broccolini:

2 bunches of broccolini, washed

2 Cara Cara or naval oranges

2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

salt & pepper, to taste

ice water

For the Orange Ginger Dressing (makes ~ 1.5 cups)

1/2 cup plain cashews soaked in hot water for 2 hours

2 Cara Cara or navel oranges, zested, peeled and cut into chunks

2" piece of fresh ginger root, peeled

1/3 cup white wine or champagne vinegar

2 Medjool dates soaked in 1/4 cup hot water

1/4 cup fortified nutritional yeast* (optional)

Dash of salt & ground black pepper

* Fortified nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Not all brands of nutritional yeast are fortified, so check the label carefully. Nutritional yeast also lends some body and flavor to this dressing but it can be omitted if necessary.

The process:

1. Get the dressing started first. Place cashews in a bowl and pour enough HOT water over them to cover by 1/2". Set aside for two hours, occasionally stirring to submerge those floating on the surface. If you have a high-powered blender, soaking may be unnecessary.

2. Zest the oranges. Cover the zest and refrigerate until needed. Peel the oranges, chop into chunks and put them in your freezer while waiting for the cashews to soak.

3. Remove the seeds from the dates, place in a small bowl and pour 1/4 cup HOT water over them. Set aside.

4. Keep the ginger and vinegar cold until needed.

5. Add the partially frozen orange chunks, 2/3 of the zest, the soaked and drained cashews, the dates AND their soaking liquid, the nutritional yeast, ginger, vinegar and S&P to your high-speed blender. Blend until completely smooth, scraping down sides if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Dressing should be slightly thick, creamy and pourable. Thin with orange juice, water or more vinegar if necessary. Refrigerate until needed (can be stored up to 1 week).

6. Ten minutes before cashews are done soaking, put a pot with a few inches of water on the stove to boil. Place clean broccolini is steaming basket once water is boiling. Cover and steam for no more than five minutes. If your steaming basket is small, cook one bunch at a time.

7. While broccolini steams, prepare an ice bath. In a large bowl, add 2-3 cups of ice and enough cold water to cover the broccolini. When broccolini is done steaming, remove from basket and plunge into ice bath. Leave he broccolini in the ice water for 2-3 minutes to stop the cooking. It should be bright green and tender crisp.

8. Thoroughly drain, shaking excess water. Blot dry.

9. Slice the oranges and arrange on a tray. Criss-cross the broccolini in an alternating pattern, pour dressing down the middle and sprinkle with toasted pinenuts, salt & pepper. Serve with additional dressing tableside.

Nutrition information is for 1 cup (~ 6 spears), 2 tsp of pinenuts, and 2 Tbsp of dressing.

Some other options:

~ Place the cooked spears in a bowl, toss all with the dressing, then arrange on plates or platter

~ Chop the cooked broccolini into bite sized pieces, add to pasta, rice or another whole grain. Toss all with dressing.

~ Steam the broccolini 1-2 minutes less, then finish on the grill.

~ Steam the broccolini 1-2 minutes less, then finish in a med/hot skillet with 1 Tbsp sesame oil. Replace the pinenuts with sesame seeds.

~ Replace the oranges with lemons, and the Orange Ginger Dressing with my Lemony Garlick Dressing!

~ Drizzle with my Almond Butter Lime Sauce instead of the Orange Ginger Dressing and replace the pinenuts with sliced or slivered almonds.

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