Broccolini - easy side dish

Broccolini is one of my favorite vegetables to use as a side dish. If you've never had it before, I recommend that you try it. It's like broccoli with a thinner, more tender stalk and smaller florets. It's v. good for you (calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron) and it's available year round.

1 bunch broccolini (usually packaged in a bundle of 6 to 8 stalks bound with rubber bands) - I trim the bottoms a little, as they can get tough and dried out where they were cut
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 or 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
1 pinch salt + 1 teaspoon salt for the blanching water

Start by boiling a big pot of water, salting it, and then dipping the broccolini in for just a few seconds. What you'll see is that the florets will turn a BRIGHT vibrant green and lose that chalky/ashy color it has when it's raw. 

As soon as that transformation takes place, drain the stalks and either run some cold sink water over it for a few seconds (works great in the winter when the water in the pipes is freezing) or you can dip it in a big bowl of ice water. This blanching and shocking process makes the veggies tender but still crisp and fresh. No one likes mushy, depressing olive green vegetables, do they?

Place the garlic, crushed red pepper flake, and oil in a cold frying pan and then put it on medium heat. Gently heating the ingredients will help draw all the garlic and spicy flavor into the oil. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, add the broccolini to the pan and toss to coat in the oil and flavorings. Sprinkle a little salt over the stalks.

Serve immediately!