One of the amazing things about Italian food (besides it being, you know, Italian food) is that the best dishes are often so completely, refreshingly simple. Like, four-ingredients simple. (No, we don’t count olive oil and salt. Or water. Or air.)
I love broccoli. I can roast broccoli with olive oil and salt all day long. I use it in stir-fries too, and casseroles, and quesadillas, et cetera, et cetera. I rarely just steam or blanch it, however, because I find steamed broccoli to be kind of disappointing. But this dish? This is the opposite of disappointing.
The “dragged” (strascinati) technique is most often used with broccoli in Italy, though other vegetables can be prepared the same way, such as broccoli rabe or cauliflower. With this method, the common step of parboiling the vegetable before sauteeing is skipped, and the result is that the vegetables stay firmer and the flavour is more concentrated.
A generous amount of olive oil along with hot peppers and garlic are usually used, and I saw no reason to tamper with tradition there. You’ll see that the garlic and pepper flakes are added toward the end ‚Äî this lets you cook the broccolini over nice high heat without the garlic and pepper flakes burning.
Don’t keep flipping and fussing with the broccoli too often or it won’t brown, which gives it that nutty caramelized flavour that makes this dish pretty sublime. Also, this dish works best when there is a little crunch left in the broccoli ‚Äî though you should feel free to cook it until it is as tender as you like.
I made this with regular broccoli first, then with broccolini, which is like broccoli but with longer slimmer stalks and a smaller head of florets, all of which are edible and have a slightly milder flavour than broccoli.
BROCCOLINI STRASCINATI (”DRAGGED” BROCCOLI)
Servings: 4 to 6
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1-1/2 pounds broccolini
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
Trim the broccolini and cut it into 1-inch pieces, using the stems and the florets.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (with a lid), the biggest one you have. Add the broccolini and cook, stirring to flip the pieces around occasionally, until they start to turn golden brown but are still crisp tender, about 8 minutes.
Season with salt; add the garlic and red pepper flakes; and saute for 30 to 60 seconds, until you can smell the garlic.
Add the wine and cover the pan for 2 minutes, allowing the liquid to come to a simmer. Remove the lid and saute for another minute until the liquid is almost evaporated and the broccolini is as tender as you like it. Remember that it will soften a bit more off the heat. Serve hot.