As I lounged on the couch Friday evening, halfheartedly sketching out a grocery list even as Thanksgiving dinner still occupied two thirds of my fridge and three quarters of my brain (let’s not even mention my stomach), I asked N. what he wanted to eat this week. “Heavy on the veg,” he said, and that was that. Into the cart, and then into a pan, went all the greens I could fit, with some salt, some pepper, and some sesame oil. On a whim, thin slices of garlic and a cautious tablespoon of orange marmalade followed, and the gluttony that resulted could more kindly be called love.
This recipe was originally conceived for broccoli rabe (also called rapini), that assertive, bitter collection of leaves with stubby little florets dotted between them. But this week my produce department didn’t have any, so I settled for broccolini instead. If we’re honest, though, it would probably also be fantastic with kale, or mustard greens, or regular old broccoli. Why leave him out?
The point is, the bitterness of the vegetable plays incredibly well with the marmalade which, with its bits of orange rind, at once offsets but also complements the bitterness of the greens. The greens are lightly blanched which, for me, just means throwing them into a pot of heavily salted boiling water for something like 90 seconds, then draining, administering a stern flick to bounce extra water out of the florets, and tumbling into a skillet shimmering with a film of olive and sesame oil. The greens sauté for another minute or two, the garlic, tossed in with abandon, crisps into little chips, and the orange marmalade melts down over the whole thing in a jammy glaze studded with bits of rind, and you’re done. Once you start cooking, the whole thing takes maybe six minutes, and then you can eat the entire pan and call it lunch. Or, you know, share it with your family, because I would never do something like eating a whole skillet of barely sweet, crisp and garlicky vegetables without telling anyone…
Variations: you could certainly adjust this dish to suit your whims. The marmalade could be lemon instead of orange, and red pepper flakes or even a dash of soy sauce would not feel out of place here. A scattering of lightly toasted sesame seeds over the finished dish would be lovely as well.
Orange glazed broccolini
Serves 2-3 as a side
2 bunches broccolini (or 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe or kale, or 1 large head of broccoli)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste
1 scant tablespoon orange marmalade
- Bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil. While you wait for it to heat, prepare your broccolini: rinse the bundle and then trim off the bottom ½ inch or so of the stalk. If the stalk is ½ an inch or more in diameter, halve it lengthwise for easier consumption. Submerge in the boiling water for about 90 seconds, until the florets and stems are intensely green and just barely tender. Drain well.
- Heat the olive and sesame oils in a large skillet over medium high heat. Toss in the broccolini and agitate the pan to coat it evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and sauté, tossing frequently, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté one additional minute, until the little slices begin to brown and crisp a bit. Then add the orange marmalade and toss well to coat. As soon as it melts and glazes the vegetables, it’s done. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.