How is it that two vegetables that look so similar are surprisingly different?
These are the things that keep me awake at night, along with these questions:
Are there still spiders in the house even if you don’t see them?
Whatever happened to the rest of Destiny’s Child?
Why doesn’t anybody make a roasted garlic air freshener?
But back to broccolini…
While you might be inclined to think that broccolini is actually the immature, younger version of broccoli, you’d be wrong. Broccolini is not baby broccoli.
The stalky veg is actually a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli, aka gai lan. You can read more about it and learn how to grow it on our sister site, Gardener’s Path.
Its distinctive features are its lanky stems and small amount of leaves. While broccoli and broccoli rabe (which is closer in kin to the turnip than actual broccoli) are both are on the bitter side, broccolini is milder, slightly sweet, and earthy.
In short? Broccolini for the win.
Though my dad (the head chef in our family) was always more prone to the blanch-and-saute method for stalky greens, I’ve become more of a roasted vegetable enthusiast as time has gone on.
Also, I’m thirty-four and don’t live at home anymore, so I’ve had to learn to fend for myself.
I’ve discovered that by cranking up the heat in my oven, anything is possible.
And by anything, I mean caramelization.
There’s something special (again, caramelization) that happens when a vegetable is roasted at a high temperature. The prepped vegetable releases its natural sugars, with a tasty outcome that is subtly sweet, crisp on the outside, and tender in the middle.
The addition of skillfully roasted vegetables to something like a simply dressed herb salad is nothing short of a straight-up game changer.
Once you’ve mastered the proper way to crisp and caramelize a veggie, that’s when the fun starts. For this broccolini dish, the next stops on this flavor train are chili, lemon, and dill.
Let’s talk herbs. I’ve always been an advocate for dill. Not sure which one dill is? Give this guide a gander.
It’s underused, if you ask me, and deserves far more praise for its charmingly fluffy characteristics and its grassy taste than it gets already.
Its celery-like notes give it the perfect flavor profile for use in all things involving chicken (chicken salad, chicken soup, and so on). But as it turns out, dill paired with earthy green veggies is equally lovely.
Try it on buttery haricots verts and thank me later.
All of the flavors in this side dish were meant to be together, yet each serves its own unique purpose. Kind of like the members of the cast of Cheers.
For that spark of heat? Crushed red pepper flakes, you’ve done it again.
And the salty, nutty, cheesy factor? Pecorino to the rescue.
You may not know this, but I also just broke down the character profiles of Sam, Diane, Carla, and Coach.
Roasted broccolini with chili, lemon, and dill is truly a dish to be enjoyed where everybody knows your name.Print
Crank up the oven and break out the broccolini. This oven-roasted side dish is swimming with sharp cheese, chili flakes, lemon, and dill.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small bunches broccolini (about 12 ounces)
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, divided
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest and juice, dill, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Place the broccolini in a large bowl and pour half of the olive oil and lemon juice mixture over the top. Toss to combine.
- Spread the dressed broccolini in an even layer onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with half of the pecorino.
- Bake until the florets and cut edges begin to crisp light and char, and the cheese turns golden brown, about 13-15 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice mixture, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and serve warm.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Vegetable
- Method: Roasting
- Cuisine: Side Dish
Keywords: broccolini, dill, lemon, pecorino, red pepper flakes
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop the Dill and Make the Lemon Dressing
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Place the dill, lemon zest, and juice into a small bowl and whisk in the oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Step 2 – Toss the Broccolini with Half the Dressing and Sprinkle with the Pecorino
Place the broccolini into a large bowl and pour half of the dressing mixture over the top.
Toss to combine, making sure that the broccolini is thoroughly coated, and then spread out the pieces in an even layer on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle with half of the grated pecorino.
Step 3 – Bake the Broccolini
Bake until the broccolini florets and cut edges begin to lightly crisp and char, and the cheese turns golden brown. This should take about 13-15 minutes.
Step 4 – Drizzle the Broccolini with the Remaining Dressing and Cheese and Serve
Place the broccolini onto a platter, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice mixture, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and serve warm.
Roasted Broccolini Is Kind of a Big Dill
The next time you’re thinking about throwing together a salad to get your greens in, think about serving this warm roasted broccolini instead.
If you dig the bitter flavor of broccoli rabe, don’t let me stop you from making a last-minute substitution. Just whisk a few drops of honey into the lemon-dill dressing to balance out the flavors.
Want even more ways to spread stalky green veggies throughout your diet? These recipes will steer you right:
- Grilled Tomato and Broccolini Pasta Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Broccoli Rabe Tartines with Chili and Pecorino
- Roasted Broccoli
When the temperature drops, I give this delicious dish a fall twist by tossing butternut squash, orange zest, and sage into the mix.
How will you change up this roasted broccolini to suit your tastes? Share your suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on March 2, 2016. Last updated July 27, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”