Lemon Broccolini

25 Aug

Tart Bright Beautiful and Green!This is another dish from my sister’s feast – the perfect side dish as far as I am concerned. Bright, green, beautiful, and amazingly tasty. Plus, it tastes best if served cold, so you can make it up to one day ahead (though not more) and it will be gorgeous on the day. I love broccoli and broccolini (which is just the baby version)… there is no taste quite like it. I hate it when its boiled to death though, because I think it tastes of *green* and too much cooking just decimates its pure flavour.

You can use broccoli in place of broccolini here, but if you can find it, do use the baby version. Its so delicate, very sweet, and incredibly tasty. It needs very little prep too – the stalks are tender, and all you need to do is just trim the edges and slice them into 2 – 3 inch chunks. I like broccoli with anything – in a soup with some aged cheddar cheese, in a gratin (with more cheese), tossed with butter… but I think this is my absolute favourite. The lemon just enhances that very bright clear flavour – and its surprising because we usually expect the broccoli to be heavy and rich. Toasted almonds add creaminess and a nutty richness to this dish – they are a wonderful balance to the lemon and broccoli.

Two days after our birthday feast, I used the left over broccolini and almonds as the base for a cold vegetable soup (whizzed up with the help of the adored immersion blender!) – it was superb – and the almonds added texture and great depth of flavour.

You can double, triple, or even halve this recipe. Its great to take on a picnic, and wonderful to serve to hoardes of people. Its a tasty addition to a feast, and a perfect side dish for dinner or lunch.

Serves 8

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds (I liked this to be very almondy – but use less if you like)
  • 2 – 3 cups broccolini or broccoli
  • 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a dry, non stick pan, over medium high heat, toast the sliced almonds. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to keep the almonds moving in the pan – they can burn in the blink of an eye! Once they are toasted, set aside to cool.

Prepare a bowl with water and ice, if possible. If not, have cold water standing by.

Also, prepare the lemon dressing. In a large-ish bowl, add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, olive oil, the grated peel of a lemon, and all its juice. Organic lemons have a huge depth of flavour that cannot be matched, and are so worth it in this recipe! Whisk together well. The lemon juice and olive oil will emulsify, and you will have a creamy looking very lemony dressing. Set aside.

Fill a large pot with water, and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil.

While the water is coming to the boil, trim your broccolini or broccoli spears. For broccolini, just trim the ends, and slice into manageable chunks… I usually just cut them in half. For broccoli, divide the head into florets, and trim the woody bits off the stalk, and cut into bite sized chunks. Wash briefly in cold water.

As soon as the water has come to the boil, put all the broccolini in. Watch carefully – you may only need a minute or two. Broccoli might take longer, but you want a crisp tender vegetable, with a little bit of crunch left. Do not over boil. You will lose all the freshness!

As soon as the broccolini is snap tender, drain, and pour the bowl of ice water or the cold water over. The broccolini will still be a little warm – this is okay. Shake to drain off as much of the water as possible, and immediately dunk the broccolini into the lemon dressing. Add the almonds, and mix thoroughly. Taste for salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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