How to Cook Sweet Baby Broccoli

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Baby broccoli is not immature heads of regular broccoli, but a relatively new hybrid also known as broccolini. It grows a small broccoli floret at the end of a slender, delicate stalk that can be cooked and eaten skin and all, as you would asparagus. The flavor is milder and more delicate than broccoli and much milder than broccoli rabe, which has a similar appearance. Baby broccoli can be used in any recipe calling for broccoli florets, but its mild flavor is highlighted when it is lightly cooked, with simple flavors.

Things You'll Need

  • Skillet
  • Butter or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh garlic
  • Baking sheet
  • Wok
  • Asian seasonings
  • Steamer
  • Lemon butter, Hollandaise sauce or vinaigrette (optional)
  • Saute baby broccoli on its own in butter or good olive oil, with just salt and pepper for seasoning. Use low heat and cook gently until it reaches the degree of tenderness you prefer. Some like it to retain a little bit of crunch, while others prefer it softened.

  • Toast fresh garlic slivers in the oil before sauteeing the baby broccoli. Use very low heat in order not to scorch the garlic, and remove the garlic slivers once they've browned. The oil will give a gentle garlic flavor to the baby broccoli, and the toasted slivers can be used as a garnish.

  • Toss the baby broccoli in olive oil, and spread it in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast it as you would asparagus at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, with coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper. It is done when the stems are tender and the florets are slightly browned at the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Stir-fry the baby broccoli either on its own, as a side dish or as part of your favorite Asian stir-fried dish. Sesame oil, five-spice powder and other Asian flavorings are good pairings with baby broccoli.

  • Steam the baby broccoli until tender, and serve it as a light and delicate side dish. Lemon butter or Hollandaise sauce are both excellent with steamed baby broccoli, or serve it at room temperature with a vinaigrette.

Tips & Warnings

  • The only advance preparation needed for baby broccoli is a quick rinse and trimming the cut ends from the stems. The skin on the stems usually is very tender, but if you happen to get a tough batch, it simply can be be peeled.

References

  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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