Showing posts with label broccolini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label broccolini. Show all posts

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

Saturday, February 24

When the Moon Hits Your Eye, Like A Big Broccolini Pie, That's Amore

When Jeanne from Cook Sister! announced that pies would be the topic for this month’s Waiter, there’s something in my… food blog event, I knew exactly what I was going to make.

Where I grew up, every neighborhood was dotted with family-run bakeries and pizzerias. Just walking along the famed Federal Hill, the wafting aromas of freshly baked wood-fired pizzas and warm yeasty breads could make even the most carb-averse person swoon. And if the smell wasn't enough to entice you, then the sight was: crispy, steaming-hot breads, calzones, and pizzas proudly propped in the store windows beckoning you to come in and have one. And considering how many times I have been lured inside (especially at Buono’s and Crugnale’s Bakeries), I can assure you that they are impossible to resist.

Calzones are true comfort food. They quell your worst hunger and leave you feeling content. Their versatility of fillings ensures that there’s something for everyone to love. And best of all, for me, they do what comfort food should do: remind me of home.

My mom and I have made hundreds of calzones over the years; what’s funny is that we always called calzones filled with eggplant or sausage or meatballs "calzones," but calzones filled with spinach or broccoli were called "pies." Which got me thinking, what’s the difference? Nothing. Turns out a spinach or broccoli pie is just another name for a calzone.

The calzone, originated in Naples, Italy, is often referred to as a “turn-over” or "half-moon" and is made of pizza dough that is filled with cheeses, vegetables, and meats. Though mozzarella cheese is most commonly featured here in the US, many other types of cheese such as fresh ricotta, Provolone, and Parmesan are used as well. Calzones can be deep-fried, but I’ve always had baked. No matter the name, they all share one common trait: they are oh so satisfying.

I’m putting a little California twist on this recipe. Broccolini just debuted at the farmer’s market and is one of my favorite vegetables. As I learned last week, it is not merely young or baby broccoli; rather, it’s a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale. Broccolini are delicate, a svelte version of regular broccoli, and they have a beautiful grassy green color. Their flavor is reminiscent of broccoli but is distinctly sweeter, with a pleasing peppery aftertaste. In this recipe, its sweetness contrasts nicely with the rich sun-dried tomatoes, salty olives and cheese, and toasty pinenuts. Of course, you can substitute regular broccoli or the bolder broccoli rabe (rapini).

Broccolini and Sun-Dried Tomato Pie (or Calzone)

Print recipe only here.

2 tsp olive oil, plus 2 tsp for brushing on top of pies
1 pound pizza dough (brought to room temperature)
1/8 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced (dry-packed or oil-soaked)
1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup broccolini, chopped
¼ cup black olives, such as Cerignola and Kalamata
½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
A few shakes of crushed red pepper
A few dashes of salt

Note: If you’re using dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, then allow them to rest in warm water for 5 minutes before slicing.

To toast the pinenuts, place in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute or until golden brown. Shake the pan handle gently to ensure even toasting. Remove from heat.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp. olive oil; sauté broccolini for about 1-2 minutes until it turns bright green yet remains firm. Add remaining ingredients and gently mix. Heat for 1 minute more, then remove from heat. Taste the filling to adjust seasonings.

To form the pies:
Working on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, and roll into two 8-10-inch ovals. For each piece of dough, put half of the broccolini mixture a bit above the center of the oval. Fold the dough to form a half-moon; seal the edges together by pressing down lightly. Then using your fingertips, fold the edge of the dough up, and pinch around the edge to create a seal. Brush them with the remaining 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil.

Baking pies on a baking sheet:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake on a rack in the lower third of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the bottom is browned. Then bump up the heat to 425, and move the pan to the upper third of the oven; bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top of the pie is golden brown and crispy.

Baking pies on a pizza stone:
Preheat the oven to 475-500 degrees, and heat the stone for at least 30 minutes. Cook pies directly on the heated stone for about 15 minutes or until both the bottoms and tops are golden brown and crispy.

1 pound of dough will make 2 large pies.

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