Lightly poached broccolini with pine nut sauce is full of bright, nutty flavor and texture. What a great way to get your green vegetables in, with pleasure.
I consider this broccolini with pine nut sauce recipe a study in what is most exciting for me in the kitchen right now.
Broccolini—baby broccoli—inspired a switch for me this past year, in which I rarely if ever make regular broccoli any more. The baby broccoli looks more elegant and less diner-ish on the plate, has more of a long, sweet stem to enjoy, and cooks up with fewer of the overcooked mishaps I keep having with standard broccoli.
One way I am sure not to overcook any poached vegetable lately is to boil the salted water, then plunge the vegetable in and: turn off the heat. I love how much more control I have over how far to take the broccolini, and if I turn away to whip up a quick pine nut sauce for over top, I don’t risk a mush when I turn back to the stove. It’s true I enjoy al dente green vegetables, for color, flavor, and texture, but even the softies can get to their desired doneness by keeping their vegetable in the water a little longer than I do, and still prevent the broccolini from falling apart.
Often I drizzle my broccolini with olive oil, dust with parmesan, and call it dinner, but to change it up or to share a pretty presentation with others, a puree of pine nuts, garlic, lemon and oil takes my every day and turns it into something really, really special. That this sauce is vegan and gluten-free just ices the cake.
I’d advise making a triple batch of the pine nut sauce, keep it in the fridge and use it on any roasted or poached vegetable you can think of.
Roasted brussels sprouts? Move over pomegranate molasses!
Steamed green beans? Raw carrot slaw? Who knew?!
Broccolini with Pine Nut Sauce
Broccolini, or baby broccoli, is typically sold in bunches. I can eat an entire bunch on my own, so I always make at least two bunches so others can have some, too. The sauce is plenty to top two bunches, but it holds well in the refrigerator, so a double batch is always a good thing.
For the broccolini:
- 2 bunches broccolini (baby broccoli)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Few grinds black pepper
Fill a wide saute pan with water to an in or two from the top (enough space to make room for the broccolini). Add the 2 tablespoons kosher salt and bring the water to a boil. Lay the broccolini in the boiling water, using tongs to submerge as much of the broccolini as possible.
Continue to boil the water for two minutes, then turn off the heat and allow the broccolini to cook in the hot water for another 12-14 minutes for al dente.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry saute pan over medium low heat, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until they are light golden brown.
Transfer all but two tablespoons of the pine nuts to a food processor (prep size works fine for a single recipe of the sauce). Add the garlic and salt, and puree, stopping a couple of times to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the lemon juice and then the water, stopping to scrape down the bowl as you go as you puree.
With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the sauce is smooth and fairly loose. Taste and add more water or lemon juice if needed.
Remove the cooked broccolini from the pan (or pour off the water). Toss the broccolini with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, arrange on the serving platter (if using), and top with a few grinds of black pepper.
Spoon the sauce across the center of the broccolini stems, sprinkle with the remaining two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts, and finish with a dusting of sumac, if using.
Serve the broccolini immediately.