Discovering Broccolini: Not the Vegetable You Think it is!


You may have seen broccolini around your local farmstand; it’s just coming back into season. But contrary to popular belief — and to its name! — broccolini is far from being merely little broccoli. This bitter green has a flavor profile all its own.

Broccolini, Broccoli Rabe and Rapini

Broccolini is often compared to both broccoli rabe and rapini, though all are different vegetables and each is distinct from common broccoli.

Broccoli rabe comes from the turnip family and is identifiable by its strong, bitter flavor and small florets.

Rapini is a common Italian cousin of broccoli rabe and shares its flavor profile.

Broccolini, however, is a cross between common broccoli and Chinese broccoli, also known as kai lan or gai lan. It is not nearly as bitter as the other two vegetables and has slightly larger florets and long stems. It has a touch of sweetness that it shares with common broccoli, and when cooked correctly, it has a vibrant green color.

Using Broccolini

Use broccolini in any recipe where you would use either broccoli or broccoli rabe. As a replacement for broccoli, it adds both a slight bitterness and a more delicate aesthetic. As a replacement for broccoli rabe, it offers a slightly milder flavor.

Get to know its unique taste by using it in a simple sautéed broccolini side dish with garlic and lemon or else in baked broccolini. Once you’re more familiar with it, try combining it with other greens, like spinach in our organic broccolini and spinach soup.

Evoke its Chinese roots with a sesame-soy broccolini, which offers just a hint of spice. Or lean more towards the Italian roots of its more bitter cousins with a spaghetti with Parmesan-roasted broccolini recipe. No matter which recipe you try, broccolini is sure to become a new staple in your kitchen!

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Image: Vilseskogen

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco