Like the Camry, the Walkman, and the Wii, broccolini is one more Japanese product making its way into the American household. And like its predecessors, the vegetable is one part engineering and one part marketing.
Broccolini was developed in 1993, when the Sakata Seed Corporation crossed broccoli with gai lan, or Chinese broccoli. Sakata originally marketed the green as “aspiration,” perhaps a not so subtle allusion to its hopes for the product. The name may have also been designed to suggest a connection to asparagus. Indeed, Sakata also tried calling it asprobroc and asprospeer – never mind its misleading nature. Crossing broccoli with asparagus, one article noted, would be like breeding a chipmunk with a tree: it can’t be done.
Ultimately, the more accurate broccolini prevailed, though brocoletti was in the running for some time.
Broccolini is basically a baby broccoli, with smaller florets at the end of the stem. The advantage of broccolini is in its adaptability. Unlike broccoli, which is seasonal, broccolini can be harvested five-times a year, which makes it available year-round. It also lasts longer than its parent (up to three weeks in the refrigerator). And given its mild, yet peppery and sweet taste, it marries well with a number of ingredients, including light-tasting vinegars, tarragon, butter or olive oil, Parmesan or goat cheese, lime, and lemon.
I paired my broccolini with lemon.
Recipe from Ina Garten
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 5 minutes
YIELD: Serves 4
WHAT TO GRAB:
1 bunch of broccolini
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Blanch the broccolini in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.
2. Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the lemon zest and garlic, and stir for a minute or two. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Drain the broccolini and add it to the garlic mixture and heat for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and toss well. Serve!