If you read about my green pepper gardening catastrophe, you'll recall that I'm none too swift with growing things. This patheticism extends, I'm afraid, to keeping track of what I learn about unusual vegetables at the farmers' market.
I recently bought what I thought was broccolini but later learned were broccoli "starts." Not broccoli, not broccoli rabe, not rapini, but starts. I can't recall if they're the early flowerings of a traditional broccoli plant or a different variety altogether. Any gardening gurus care to shed some light?
Regardless of their horticultural origins, broccoli starts are leafier and thinner-stemmed than traditional broccoli, with a mild, sweetish flavor. They pair perfectly with red peppers and sesame flavors in a super-quick stir-fry.
I could do a neat tie-in here about how the Olympics inspired this Chinese-style preparation, but it would be a lie. I made them, quite simply, because they're tasty.
No medal for me.
Recipe for Toasted Sesame Broccoli Starts
Here's a quick vegetable side dish with sesame flavor and lots of crunch. It's super-healthy, and colorful to boot. You'll find pre-toasted sesame seeds in the Asian foods aisle of most supermarkets.
2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and sliced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons peanut oil
7 ounces broccoli "starts," rinsed, with water still clinging to the leaves
3 ounces red bell pepper, seeded, sliced into strips or rings
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
crushed red pepper flakes, optional
In a medium skillet, warm the garlic and ginger in the oil over medium-low heat until soft, about 2 minutes, stirring. Increase heat to medium and add broccoli starts and bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper.
Saute until colors brighten and vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes, tossing frequently with tongs. Sprinkle with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes, if desired.