Broccolini is a great alternative to broccoli; the stalks are long and tender and the florets are smaller, so it needs less time to cook. It's also mellower in flavor, so you can use it with a wider variety of ingredients.
If you're short on time, use jarred roasted red peppers instead of roasting the bell peppers yourself. But the taste of freshly roasted peppers can't be beat.
Make Ahead: The relish can be made, covered and refrigerated up to a week in advance.
Yield: Makes small-plate servings
- For the relish
- 2 large red bell peppers (may substitute 3/4 cup diced jarred roasted red bell peppers)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting the peppers
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for roasting the peppers
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped (see NOTE)
- 3 pickled peppadew peppers, finely chopped
- 1 pickled red cherry pepper, stem and seeds discarded, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- For the broccolini
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 16 stalks broccolini (12 to 16 ounces)
- For serving
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Position an oven rack in the second-highest position; preheat the broiler.
Brush the bell peppers with oil and season them lightly with salt. Place them on their sides on a baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches between the tops of the peppers and the broiler flame or unit, and broil for 5 minutes on each side. This should take 20 to 25 minutes. The skins will become charred and the flesh soft. Place the peppers in a heatproof bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let them sit for 20 minutes.
Finely dice the pepper flesh, discarding the skin, ribs and seeds, and transfer it to a medium bowl. (The yield is 3/4 cup.) Add the walnuts, Peppadews, red cherry pepper, vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring to incorporate.
For the broccolini: Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with the salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Trim 1 inch from the end of each broccolini stem and discard it. Add the broccolini to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute, then transfer to the ice water until thoroughly cooled. Pat dry with paper towels.
To serve, arrange the broccolini on a serving dish. Top with the pepper relish and the feta (to taste). Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: Toast the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often to prevent burning, for 7 to 8 minutes or until they are fragrant and browned.
Adapted from "Mike Isabella's Crazy Good Italian," by Mike Isabella (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2012).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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