Monday, March 12, 2012

Broccolini with Smoked Paprika, Almonds and Garlic

With my birthday just a few weeks away, I've been trying to finish up my 30 x 30 challenge. As of last week, I still needed to try five or six things, so I went out of my way to add new foods to our menu. One of the first things that came to mind was this broccolini recipe I had gotten from Bon Appetit over two years ago. At the time, I had torn the page out of the magazine and pinned it to my kitchen bulletin board (code for "make this immediately"). Unfortunately, I had no luck finding broccolini at the grocery store. Eventually, I unpinned the recipe and filed it away.

When I was planning this week's menu and contemplating new foods to add, I pulled this recipe out once again. I remembered seeing broccolini at the store  recently, so I added it to the list and crossed my fingers. I was in luck - Whole Foods had a huge pile of the stuff in stock. And good thing, too, because this amazing recipe did not deserve to languish in a folder for so long.

This dish is fast, simple and delicious. I like how sparing it is - just a few ingredients, but they all manage to shine. The nuts are toasted in oil with garlic and smoked paprika, then tossed with the steamed broccolini later. Since the steaming is done in the same pot, any remaining spicy oil is absorbed into the broccolini as it cooks. This is good, because smoked paprika is the epitome of spices. It is my new favorite thing. Paprika adds a lovely warmth to any dish without any mouth-tingling heat. When that warmth is combined with a deep smokiness, a drool-worthy condiment is created. I promise I will be finding more ways to use this soon. That flavor added to a fresh, green vegetable with crunchy nuts and a dash of vinegar makes a beautifully balanced side dish. I've made it twice in twenty-four hours and I'm already craving more!

Broccolini with Smoked Paprika, Almonds and Garlic
Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2009.

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp sliced almonds
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (I'm sure regular paprika would be nice, but it's the smoked kind that really makes this recipe shine)
kosher salt
1/2 lb broccolini, cut into 2-3" lengths
1/4 c water
1 tsp sherry vinegar

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium- high heat. Add the almonds and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring, until they begin to brown. Add garlic and paprika, sprinkle with salt and stir for about a minute. Transfer to a small bowl.

Add remaining 1/2 tbsp oil to the same pot. Add broccolini, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Add 1/4 c water, cover and cook 3-4 minutes, until broccolini is bright green and water has cooked off. Stir in almond mixture, season again (if necessary), and stir in sherry vinegar. Enjoy!

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