The best way to cook broccolini on the stove – enjoy a flavorful charred outside, perfect texture and vibrant green color.
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Read on for step-by-step pictures, video demo and relevant tips (2 mins)
About This Broccolini Recipe
This is a really easy to execute recipe for preparing broccolini in a pan, on the stove, in no time at all and can easily become your favorite way to cook baby broccoli as a side dish.
We use a technique known as steam frying – both the resulting texture and the flavor surpass what you’d get if blanching then sauteing, steaming or roasting (which is our least favorite way to address the delicate broccolini as it dries it out too much). We eat broccolini once a week, faithfully, and always rely on this fabulous method for a perfectly cooked, delicious bright green vegetable.
Ingredients You Will Need
- Broccolini. This recipe is for a couple of bunches broccolini (about a pound), with some of the stems trimmed (only the thicker, longer bits). If you choose to keep the entire stalks, add a tad bit more olive oil and water than specified to accomodate them. The flowers and leaves are edible so go ahead and cook them too.
- Extra virgin olive oil. Because this broccolini preparation is so simple and so little fat is needed extra virgin oil is just the source of flavor to coat the tender florets with.
- Garlic cloves. Minced, add it to taste. We tend to be generous in its use for this dish.
- Seasonings & water. Besides salt and pepper you can flavor the garlic broccolini with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes or a couple of Parmesan cheese shavings. You need about 1/4 cup of water to steam the broccolini, maybe an extra tablespoon, depending on how hot the skillet.
- Deep non-stick pan or large skillet. The broccolini does become smaller as it loses water content while seared, but in the beginning you need a suitably sized skillet to accomodate the bulk of the florets.
Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli, a cross between regular broccoli and gai lan, also called Chinese broccoli. It is relatively new to the world of Brassica oleracea cultivars and was developed in Japan by the Sakata Seed Company in the late nineteen eighties. Since about 1996 it has been grown commercially in Mexico, known as asparation, and began to be imported into the US as broccolini in 1998. Other popular names around the world include brocoletti and broccolette.
How to Cook Broccolini in a Pan
The most popular ways to cook broccolini are traditional steaming and sauteing and while they get the job done, neither method creates flavor from the natural sugars and amino acids on the surface of the vegetable. And oven roasting it in a sheet pan is just a sad affair. Roast broccolini is dry and fibrous.
Steam frying, even though little known as an official cooking technique delivers a far superior cooked vegetable. Nuances of flavor are born via the Maillard reaction while the broccolini is seared in a hot pan with only a small amount of oil (sauteed broccolini simply lacks these). We commonly char ours beyond what you see in the pictures below (personal preference) by simply letting it pan fry a bit longer than what this recipe calls for.
Feel free to experiment and do the same if you are a fan of boldly charred veggies. The steaming part of the process ensures that the broccolini maintains a good texture (much better than if you try to boil it in a pot) while fully cooked through, vibrant and outright delicious.
- Heat skillet. Place a pan or a skillet over a medium-high heat burner for 2-3 minutes, until hot. Prep, wash and drain the broccolini.
- Sear. Add the olive oil, coat the pan and add the prepared broccolini. Let sear for a couple of minutes to create a slight char. Stir as needed to avoid burning.
- Garlic. Stir in the minced garlic and allow it to become fragrant.
- Steam. Add the water and let them broccolini steam as it evaporates.
- Season. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste when there is very little water remaining in the pan, stir again, cook another minute.
NOTE: Typically, steam frying involves covering the pan with a lid once the water (or other liquid) is added, to contain the steam. However, with a tender vegetable such as broccolini, snow peas or asparagus the steam that results from simply allowing the liquid to evaporate is sufficient and a lid is not needed.
Ways to Enjoy Steam Fried Garlicky Broccolini
This healthy side dish, rich in fiber and a nutrition powerhouse can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
- on its own as a side to your protein of choice, seasoned with some red pepper flakes to taste
- as a topping for ramen, along with soft boiled egg etc. (one of our favorite ways to enjoy it)
- folded into a bowl of pasta with just olive oil and Parmesan cheese
- as a topping for creamy polenta with shrimp
- as a topping for rice
- in fish tacos, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- as a side with some feta cheese crumbles
- as a vegetable addition to a soup such as basic egg drop or chicken noodle – simply steam fry it and add it to the soup
You Might Enjoy
- 1 lb broccolini
- 1 1/2 tbps extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup water (if needed additional 1 tbsp)
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- Wash and pat dry the broccolini and trim any thicker stalks (optional).*
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 2-3 minutes. Add the extra virgin olive oil and the broccolini. Allow the florets a minute or so to sear in the hot pan and get charred before you begin to move them around to coat them in the oil and sear all over.
- Continue to pan fry for another 2 minutes or so, if needed add an extra drizzle of oil to avoid excessive charring.
- Stir in the minced garlic and let become fragrant. About 60 seconds.
- Add the water. Steam the broccolini until the water is almost evaporated before you season with salt and pepper. Steam for an extra minute and remove from the heat. Serve sprinkled with a bit of red pepper flakes or Parmesan cheese.
*You can cook and consume the small yellow flowers (if present) and leaves, they are delicious..
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 203mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g