Simple Steamed Broccolini with Tahini Dressing

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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!

An overhead image of bright green, steamed broccolini resting on a white, round plate. The broccolini is drizzled with a creamy white tahini dressing.

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.

Broccolini wins all hearts

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 nutrition

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.

Baby broccoli vs broccolini

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.

How to steam broccolini

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.

Step 1: Prepare your steamer

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. 

Step 2: Steam cook

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.

Step 3: Dry and cool

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.

An overhead image of vibrant green, steamed baby broccoli, resting on a white surface.
Drying and cooling the broccolini helps to preserve its crispness and allows it to soak up dressing or sauce more easily.

Allow the steamed broccolini to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Dress

Next, transfer the broccoli to a serving plate, bowl, or platter. It’s time to add your tahini dressing!

A round, white plate is resting on a bright, white surface. The plate holds bright green, steamed baby broccoli.
You can use a serving plate, platter, or bowl for serving and dressing the steamed broccoli. You can also do this on individual plates, table-side.

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.

Tahini dressing options

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.

Most often, I use my Delightfully Green Tahini Dressing, Dijon Lemon Tahini Dressing, or Sweet & Tangy Orange Tahini Dressing for this job.

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:

  • Delightfully Green Tahini Dressing
  • Tahini beet dressing
  • Dijon Lemon Tahini Dressing
  • Balsamic Dijon tahini dressing
  • Turmeric tahini dressing
  • Sweet & Tangy Orange Tahini Dressing
An overhead image of bright green, steamed broccolini resting on a white, round plate. The broccolini is drizzled with a creamy white tahini dressing.

Alternative dressing options

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:

  • Simple Champagne vinaigrette
  • Yum sauce
  • Greek vinaigrette
  • Cashew cilantro dressing
  • Sunflower seed romesco
  • Vegan yellow cheese sauce
  • Cashew carrot dressing
  • Versatile cashew queso sauce
An overhead image of a clear, glass jar of homemade vinaigrette, resting on a white surface.

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Meal prep and storage

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.

An overhead image of bright green, steamed broccolini resting on a white, round plate. The broccolini is drizzled with a creamy white tahini dressing.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium small or 1 large bunch broccolini (baby broccoli), stems trimmed
  • 1 batch Delightfully Green Tahini Dressing, Dijon Lemon Tahini Dressing, Sweet & Tangy Orange Tahini Dressing or another tahini dressing or salad dressing of choice

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with a few inches of water and fit it with a steamer attachment. Bring the water to a simmer. Transfer the broccolini to the steamer basket. 
  • Steam the broccolini till crisp tender, 4-5 minutes. Remove the broccolini from the steamer and transfer it to a baking sheet or a large cutting board that’s lined with a tea towel or paper towels. Pat the broccolini very dry. Allow it to cool for a few minutes on the towels. 
  • Place the broccolini onto a serving dish (or in a storage container, if you’re meal prepping). Dress it well with the tahini dressing; alternatively, plate portions of the broccolini and serve the tahini dressing table-side. Enjoy.

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.

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