If you are wondering what the wee yellow things are, they were a few baby beans struggling along on a bean plant in my garden. I threw them in with the broccolini for good measure.
175g (6 oz) broccolini 4 slices good sourdough bread 2 large cloves garlic, peeled Extra virgin olive oil Flaky sea salt 12 sage leaves (or a few tufts of fresh rosemary or sprigs of thyme) Chilli flakes or freshly ground black pepper Freshly grated nutmeg Parmesan cheese for shaving Dukkah for sprinkling
1 Blanch the broccolini until nearly tender in a saucepan of salted boiling water – it only needs a few minutes. Drain broccolini and refresh with cold water to stop it cooking. Shake off extra water then dry it briefly on paper towels.
2 Either grill the bread carefully over a barbecue grill rack heated to medium, or in a hot ridged grill pan, until lightly charred. Rub the grilled or toasted bread with a clove of garlic cut in half (you can omit this if using garlic in the topping though I usually opt for two applications!), drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. The bruschetta is delicious enough in this simple form to enjoy as a snack … but this recipe calls for add-ons!
3 Crush the other clove of garlic with a little sea salt. Put 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and set over a gentle heat. Add garlic and sage leaves if using and let them heat through and start to colour (if using rosemary or thyme, add it now). Then add broccolini and toss it gently until it is coated with the garlic oil.
4 Spoon broccolini onto bruschetta, scraping out all the juices. Then finish it off with a shake of chilli flakes or good grind of black pepper and a little grated nutmeg, shave over fresh parmesan cheese, sprinkle with dukkah and drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil. Devour immediately!
We all know and recognise broccoli, but what about broccolini and broccoli rabe? Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and gaai laan, or Chinese broccoli. Instead of flower buds growing together and forming a cluster as they do with broccoli, the buds on broccolini form on a single long stem. Like with broccoli, the stem and leaves are edible.
I grow a plant sold as ‘tender-stemmed broccoli’ I purchase from my local plant nursery. I believe it to be broccolini but perhaps that name has a restrictive trademark and it has to be sold under another name in this country. Never mind – it tastes great!
It’s a tad confusing … but you can use broccoli in recipes calling for broccolini – in this recipe cut the slices into manageable pieces after cooking – or if you are in America, use broccoli rabe. Broccoli rabe is from a different plant family, and more mustardy and bitter-tasting than broccoli or broccolini, but still delicious served this way. Whichever one you use, you’ll be eating a whack of goodness.
Broccolini is not the tidiest looking plant to grow, but who cares about that when it starts producing endless stems of sweet-tasting broccoli.