Simple steamed broccolini with tahini dressing is one of my favorite, quick and easy vegetable side dish to whip up at a moment’s notice. The broccolini becomes crisp tender and mildly sweet with steaming. You can choose your favorite tahini dressing to add flavor, a creamy sauce, and healthful fats—and I provide lots of dressing options to help inspire you!
Over the past few months, I’ve been sharing some of the simple veggie side dishes that add fiber, color, and crunch to my lunches and dinners.
Vegetable side dishes can be layered and unusual, but they don’t have to be complicated. They can be as simple as crudités, a bag of frozen cauliflower that’s been crisped to perfection in the oven, or a simple green salad.
The steamed broccolini that I’m sharing today is one of my most tried-and-true vegetable side dishes. I make it often for myself, but it’s also a dish that I’ve shared with friends.
Time and time again, the people in my life come to enjoy this unassuming green as much as I do.
I’m starting to think of broccolini as the great green crowd-pleaser.
There are no doubt many people who don’t like broccolini, but I’ve yet to meet one of them.
The list of people in my life who love broccolini includes my best friend’s two young kids and in-laws, my mom, nearly all of my nutrition clients, and every neighbor and friend who has tried this steamed broccolini dish.
It’s not hard to understand why. Steamed broccolini is tender and sweet. It cooks quickly, thanks to its slim stalks.
Broccolini is wonderfully versatile: it can be steamed, as it is here, sautéed, or roasted.
And it offers some of the same nutrients that so many green and cruciferous vegetables do.
Broccolini is full of dietary fiber, which helps to regulate digestion and may benefit heart health.
The vegetable is also a good source of vegan iron; it contains about 7% of the RDA per serving. It offers calcium and magnesium, and it’s an excellent source of Vitamin A, which plays an important role in healthy vision.
Finally, broccolini contains both Vitamins C and E, which each have antioxidant function—in other words, potential to help strengthen the body’s capacity to combat aging processes.
You may have seen broccolini labeled as “baby broccoli,” which makes it seem as though the vegetable is a miniature version of regular broccoli.
In fact, broccolini is a hybrid vegetable, which dates back to the early 1990s. It’s a cross between regular broccoli and Gai Lan, or Chinese broccoli.
Gai lan has long stalks, which are thinner than broccoli stalks, large leaves, and very small florets. Broccolini has many of those same characteristics, minus the big leaves—broccolini leaves are usually quite small, and they crisp up nicely when the vegetable is roasted.
I’ve pretty much never met a batch of broccolini that I didn’t like. I love the crisp texture that the vegetable acquires from roasting, and I love how soft it becomes when it’s sautéed (preferably with lots of garlic and lemon).
Truthfully, though—and this goes for regular broccoli, too—steaming is my favorite way to prepare this vegetable.
Steaming brings out broccolini’s natural sweetness and inherent flavor. Other ways of preparing broccolini pull focus onto seasonings or changes in texture. I think that steam cooking makes broccolini taste more like itself.
Here’s now to do it.
Fill a large pot with a few inches of water and fit it with a steamer attachment (bamboo or metal will both work; I use the large steamer attachment and sauce pan from Caraway). Bring the water to a simmer.
Steam the broccolini till crisp tender. In my experience, this takes 4-5 minutes. You can adjust the cooking time a bit based on how crisp or tender you like the vegetable to be.
When the broccoli is ready, it’s important to remove it from heat and dry it and cool it right away, so that it doesn’t continue cooking and become too soft or soggy.
I like to line a cutting board with a large tea towel or some paper towels, then transfer the cooked broccolini to the lined surface.
Allow the steamed broccolini to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Next, transfer the broccoli to a serving plate, bowl, or platter. It’s time to add your tahini dressing!
Bring your container of tahini dressing to the table and drizzle it generously over the broccolini. I always leave my dressing on the table to add more as needed.
You could serve the steamed broccolini just the way it is after cooking. But it becomes tastier, more interesting, and more nutrient dense with the addition of a creamy tahini dressing.
Fortunately, however, tahini dressing is a staple food for me, so I have lots of options for you to choose from. Here’s a list:
Not a tahini fan? Sesame allergy?
I’ve got you covered. There are so many other, excellent dressing options for your freshly steamed broccolini. Here are some ideas:
Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.
Steamed broccolini is a great vegetable side for make-ahead cooking; it was actually one of the vegetables that I relied on the most during my internship year, which inspired The Vegan Week.
The broccolini can be stored for up to 4-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge, and most tahini dressings can be stored for up to a week.
On Sunday, I wrote about needing to take care of my end-of-year responsibilities and commitments to myself between now and the end of December.
As I do that, it’s so nice to have super simple, nourishing recipes that add color and balance to my meals without too much effort.
This broccolini dish is one of them, and I’ve loved it for years. I hope that you will, too.