Sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel just so darn proud of yourself. As a child, I wouldn’t eat anything green, unless it was a grape or granny smith apple—no veggies for me. When I started cooking for myself, I lost my childhood fear of vegetables and pursued everything foreign or formerly “gross” in the produce section. Except broccoli. So intense was my dislike for it, that I requested restaurant servers to “hold the broccoli.” I didn’t even want it on my plate lest it flavor the rest of the food.
Last summer, however, I started eating a small amount of broccoli because I wanted to like it. While I never fell in love with it, I made sure it made on occasional appearance with other, more delicious steamed veggies. We were peaceful acquaintances.
Our relationship continued this way for about a year until last night when I made a salad with broccolini. Okay, technically broccolini isn’t exactly the same as broccoli. Often mistaken for baby broccoli, it’s actually a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan (also known as Chinese kale). It’s sweeter, milder taste make it a perfect stepping stone to loving broccoli broccoli.
I delighted in my broccolini recipe so much that I wished I’d made more! And for this new love for kind-of-broccoli, I felt proud of myself.
Nourishing Broccolini and Quinoa Salad
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 bunch broccolini
1 ½ cup cooked quinoa (or any leftover grain hanging out in your fridge. Thank you, leftover gods!)
½ head green leaf lettuce
3 large handfuls baby kale and/or spinach
generous glug of olive oil
generous glug of apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
1 avocado, sliced in thin strips
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
1. In a large pan or wok, warm coconut oil at medium-low heat. Add broccolini to the pan and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and salt. Lightly sautée for about 8 minutes, turning the broccolini over every few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a small pan, warm quinoa or leftover grain then set aside. To make a fresh batch of quinoa, bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt and 1 cup dry quinoa. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot, and cook for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork before serving.
3. Toss lettuce, kale, and spinach in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast.
4. Divide greens onto two plates. Arrange broccolini, quinoa, bell pepper, and avocado on the beds of greens. Garnish with cilantro.
More healthy gluten-free vegan dinners: Raw Coconut Curry Rice
Photos: Mary Hood