Thursday, June 10

What do Hello Kitty, Plasma TVs, and Broccolini Have in Common?

light and creamy parpadelle with broccolini

When you hear the word "Japanese," what comes to mind? Sushi? Honda? Anime? Karate? Hello Kitty? The Japanese invented of all them.

They also brought us karaoke, the CD player, and the plasma t.v., all of which pale in comparison to their greatest achievement, the invention of broccolini. Broccolini, a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, was invented by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohana, Japan.

broccolini (also called baby broccoli) from Hillcrest Farmers' Market in San Diego
(Broccolini at the Hillcrest Farmers' Market in San Diego.)

What's so special about broccolini? Everything. Unlike bulky regular broccoli, broccolini has long, slender stems that are graced with delicate bunches of buds. Broccolini's flavor is sweeter than broccoli and has hints of earthy asparagus. When cooked, it's much more tender than broccoli yet has a satisfying crisp texture when eaten raw.

Like broccoli, broccolini can be boiled, steamed, sauteed, roasted, and even grilled. Avoid overcooking it; broccolini prefers a light hand. Since it's so tender, it can be sauteed raw. If, however, you prefer to boil it first, then consider a par-boil. Par-boil broccolini for 1 minute, then plunge it into a bowl of ice water to "shock" it. This will stop the cooking process, maintain its vivid green color, and ensure tenderness. Just drain and pat dry before sauteeing.

fresh broccoli rabe or rapini
Broccoli Rabe (rapini).

If you're wondering whether or not broccolini is the same as broccoli rabe (rapini), it isn't. Broccoli rabe is a robust Italian vegetable known for its distinctive bitterness. In fact, if you'd like to learn more about broccoli rabe, then check out my latest piece on NPR's Kitchen Window: "You Don't Have To Be Italian To Eat Broccoli Rabe."

The piece contains four recipes featuring broccoli rabe:
Broccoli Rabe and Mushroom Frittata with Grape Tomato Salsa
Lemony Broccoli Rabe and Cannelini Bean Crostini
Broccoli Rabe, Fennel, and Hot Sausage Pizza (pictured below)
Sicilian Anchovy and Broccoli Rabe Pasta

broccoli rabe, fennel, and hot sausage pizza DSC_0005

Now, if the Japanese had invented the iPhone 4, maybe that would be their greatest accomplishment.

Light and Creamy Parpadelle with Mascarpone Cheese and Broccolini
Makes 2 large or 4 small servings
Print recipe only here.

1/2 pound parpadelle (I used fresh pasta)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3-3 1/2 cups broccolini, thicker stems trimmed and sliced
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Zest of 1/2 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons hot pasta water
3-4 tablespoons grated Reggiano-Parmigiano or Grana Padano cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling, optional

1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Note: Fresh pasta cooks very quickly (3-5 minutes), so cook it once the sauce is nearly finished.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add shallots and saute 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add broccolini and saute 2-3 minutes, until just softened and lightly browned. Add white wine and leave alone for 2 minutes, letting the alcohol evaporate.

3. In a small bowl, whisk mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and hot pasta water until smooth and creamy.

4. Drain pasta and add to the skillet with the broccolini. Add the cheese sauce, lightly tossing until well coated, about 1 minute. Serve immediately. Top with grated cheese, and, if desired, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

You might also like these recipes from Food Blogga:
Broccolini and Sun-Dried Tomato Calzone
Easy Chicken Saute with Broccoflower, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Olives
Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) on Crispy Polenta with a Creamy Goat Cheese Sauce

Here are more broccolini recipes you might enjoy:
Lemon and Broccolini Soup recipe from Technicolor Kitchen
Spaghetti with Shrimp, Broccolini, and Basil recipe from TasteFood
Thai Pork Belly with Garlic and Broccolini recipe from Viet World Kitchen


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love broccolini and this invetive twist Susan:D

kirbie said...

Interesting! I've never tried this before. I'll have to look for it at the Hillcrest market when I go next weekend.

The French said...

OMG. I love broccolini and this recipe sounds amazing. Can't wait to try:)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I never liked broccoli rabe, but do like broccolini, particularly as a weeknight veggies steam and drizzled iwth garlic and oil. I love the idea of incorporating it into pasta. You had me at the mascarpone!

RamblingTart said...

This is a fascinating post, Susan. :-) I love when you share the history of foods. I always depart smarter and inspired. :-)

Peter M said...

I've had broccoli with pasta but the diminutive broccolini would be more appropriate. The colours here are awesome and who doesn't like slurping pappardelle?

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I had no idea the Japanese invented broccolini! Thanks for adding to our food knowledge.

Joanne said...

And to think I've actually never cooked with broccolini...I've seen in plenty of times though. I love the sound of this pasta. Mascarpone...pappardelle. Total yum.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

val-Glad you like it!

kirbie-Hope you find it. I love it.

thefrench-Thanks! Enjoy!

sdoc-I had me at the mascarpone too. ;)

ramblingtart-Oh, that's so sweet of you to say. Thanks.

peter-"slurping parpadelle." I love that image.

lydia-You're welcome!

joanne-Never? You're missing out. Hope you try it soon!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ok since we just had 3 days of pizzas, I think the pasta will win for tonight.
This is dinner!
Haha The iPhone will win,no contest. I mean after all the recipe will cut & past into MacGourmet and then the shopping list will appear on the phone in the grocery story.

Johanna GGG said...

those photos look lovely - I love broccolini but often get confused about broccoli rabe because I have never found it here so I appreciate you info on that

Karen said...

That pizza looks wonderful!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

This looks so good! As always, I love your photos.

Angie said...

Just tried broccoli rabe last week, and I loved your story on npr. I recently tried broccolini too, in the past few years and also love it, glad to finally know its orgin. Delicious recipes!

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We Are Not Martha said...

Ooooh! I had no idea the Japanese invented broccolini, but now i love them even more! This looks absolutely amazing! :)


Unplanned Cooking said...

I'm wondering if they have broccolini at our neighborhood store. I've never seen it there, and don't think I've tried it either, but I'm a roasted broccoli fan so I'm sure I'd like it.

Maaya said...

hey this is a very nice and easy recipe . the use of broccolini is so cool.. makes the dish so pretty

The Food Hunter said...

great post very interesting. And that pasta looks really good.

papawow said...

I never knew broccolini was Japanese! Mmm, thank goodness broccolini hasen't gone the way of the Betamax, or the Minidisc. Delicious recipe and great photos, thanks for sharing.

Bev said...

I'll have to try broccoli raab. Anything with marscapone has to be good, right?

Michelle@TastyThailand said...

That actually looks healthy and I love broccolini. It's a must try I think :)

Juliana said...

Didn't know about broccolini...the pasta looks delicious with it...

Amy (Super Healthy Kids) said...

My kid love broccoli, and I know they'll love those dishes!!

Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

that looks super yummy! I've never heard of broccolini before.

Maria said...

I need to cook with broccolini more often. Thanks for the reminder.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I have yet to try broccolini. Now I need to go hunt some down at the farmer's market. Lovely photos, great information, and another drool-worthy recipe. Thanks!

lisaiscooking said...

Interesting to know. I didn't the origin of broccolini. I love the flavor though, and your pasta sounds fantastic!

David Hall said...

I've never heard of Broccolini I have to say, although it looks a little like purple sprouting?