Sautéed baby broccoli, or broccolini is an easy, healthy vegetable side dish that only takes about 15 minutes to make.
I like broccoli a lot, but I absolutely LOVE broccolini! This simple preparation brings out the mild, sweet flavor and requires minimal prep. A super simple delicious side dish that’s perfect for any night of the week. It’s way faster to prep and cook, and personally, I much prefer it to regular broccoli!
What is baby broccoli?
Baby broccoli, broccolini, broccoletti and tenderstem broccoli are all common names for this delicious veggie. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just immature regular broccoli, but a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli or gai lan. It’s mild, sweet and packed with nutrients.
Broccolini is easily found in the produce section your regular grocery store. I buy it at Trader Joe’s all the time. It has long, thin stems and looser florets than regular broccoli. You may also see some leaves and small yellow flowers – the entire plant is edible!
It’s quick cooking and requires no prep as you don’t have to break it down into smaller florets before you cook it. Treat it just like you would regular broccoli, it’s absolutely wonderful sautéed, steamed, roasted, grilled or enjoyed raw.
All you need is a few simple ingredients to make this easy side dish.
- Broccolini or Baby Broccoli – all you have to do to prep it is cut off the last half inch or so of the tender stems. Unlike regular broccoli, you can easily prep and eat the entire vegetable.
- Olive Oil – use a good olive oil. The flavors in this recipe are simple and you will taste the difference! The Furies is hands down my favorite.
- Garlic – fresh garlic or garlic powder works too.
- Lemon – fresh lemon juice and zest adds brightness.
- Red pepper flakes – optional but adds a little kick. If that’s not your thing, add some black pepper instead.
The ends of tenderstem broccoli can be a little bit woody so trim off about a half inch of the thin stalks. Using a chef’s knife or a sturdy drinking glass, smash the whole cloves of garlic and remove the papery peel. Minced garlic burns easily. Smashing the garlic will release the flavor into the olive oil when cooking, minimizing the risk of burning which can impart a bitter flavor. Zest a lemon and reserve the zest for garnish after the cooking process.
Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the whole smashed garlic cloves and sauté for about a minute until it becomes fragrant. Place broccolini in the skillet and use tongs to toss and coat with oil. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. The broccolini will turn a bright green color and the tips of the delicate florets may pick up a little bit of char. Season with a little salt. Add water and cover the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes. This allows the broccolini to steam and become perfectly crisp tender.
Once the stalks are al dente, squeeze lemon juice all over the broccolini and season with salt to taste. Transfer to a serving platter and top with red pepper flakes, lemon zest and a drizzle of good olive oil.
- Add parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
- Sauté in olive oil and butter for more richness and flavor
- Add sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds for some Asian inspired flavor
- Top with toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts for texture and crunch
- Broccolini is available year-round but Spring through late Summer is peak season. It should look vibrant and fresh and the stems should not look dried out. The thinner the stems the better! It should be firm to the touch with no soft or brown spots and the buds on the florets should be tightly closed. You may see a few leaves or tiny yellow flowers but don’t worry, the whole plant is edible! If your broccolini has thicker stalks, use a sharp knife to shave them down so that it all cooks evenly.
- Don’t mince the garlic! Garlic burns easily and keeping the garlic cloves whole adds flavor without the risk of burning the garlic.
- Cooking times will vary a bit depending on how you like your veggies. I prefer a slightly tender, crispy texture. If you prefer softer vegetables, just steam them a bit longer to your liking.
- Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. I would not recommend freezing. Add leftover broccolini to pasta, grain bowls, chop up leftovers in small pieces for omelettes, use it as a pizza topping, go wild!
More veggie sides to try
- Lemony Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Feta and Herbs
- Harissa and Honey Roasted Rainbow Carrots
- Shaved Vegetable Salad
- Asparagus Mimosa with Caper Vinaigrette
Sauteed Baby Broccoli (Broccoletti) with Lemon and Garlic
- 12 ounces broccolini baby broccoli, broccoletti
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon zest of whole, juice of half, slices for garnish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup water
- salt to taste
- Cut off the bottom half inch of the stalks of washed and dried broccolini.
- Smash garlic cloves and remove papery skin. Zest lemon and set aside the lemon zest.
- Heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add in whole smashed garlic cloves and saute for about a minute until they become fragrant.
- Add broccolini to skillet and use tongs to toss and coat. Saute for 4-5 minutes until it starts to turn bright green and the tips on the florets pick up a little bit of char. Season with a little bit of salt.
- Carefully add water to the pan and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid. Steam for 2-3 minutes until crisp tender. Open the lid and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Season with more salt to taste if necessary.
- Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with lemon zest, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of good olive oil. Garnish with the other half of the lemon cut into slices.