Broccolini w. Lavender, Tarragon & Parsley
I believe I tempted you with some beautiful tarragon quite a while ago and yet in the pace of my day to day The Botanical Kitchen has sat silently. I could offer you a myriad of excuses but the reality is that sometimes what we envision for ourselves; a slow, accomplished life isn't always reflected amid the noise and haste. Everyday commitments demand attention and often in an invasive way. I've existing obligations for my year so unfortunately there's not the opportunity to focus solely on the growing affair I have with food. Instead I'm attempting a gradual transition.
Although it’s not quite as romantic as one would hope working creatively on the fringe can harbour some of the most beautiful work though; work tucked into the leftover moments; the dawn hours and the down time. I’m likely to falter but I hope to foster a more steadfast pace and with recent time spent in the company of some very talented folk the inspiration is abounds.
For now, though this recipe is one that can be tucked in your in between moments. It’s a hearty green fare made evermore moorish in its combination of fresh herbs, orange and lavender. Compared to the bitter flavour of broccoli, the broccolini provides a sweet, earthy taste that is milder. Although it’s often mistaken for baby broccoli the vegetable is actually a cross between that and Chinese broccoli. It has small florets, long stalks and a handful of small leaves; all of which are edible. Much like broccoli is very nutrient dense with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties.
The other dark house of this salad is the freekeh. Freekeh is a young green wheat that has been roasted over an open fire so that the straw and chaff are burnt off. The inside is too moist to burn and so a firm, slightly chewy grain is leftover. It has an earthy, nutty flavour that hints of smoke and lends itself to hearty salads, roast vegetables and middle eastern plates. In a plant based diet, freekeh is an excellent source of protein, zinc and iron and likewise is full of essential nutrients such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. As a wheat grain it is not gluten free though so if you are sensitive then it could also be substituted for brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat.
Broccolini with Lavender, Tarragon and Parsley / Serves 2
3/4 cup of whole freekeh
1 litre of water
1 bunch of broccolini
1 handful tarragon
1 handful of parsley
1 orange, juice and zest
1 tbsp lavender, ground
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper
Cover the freekeh with water and soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain and rinse the grain before covering it with water in a medium saucepan and bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Once it's cooked rinse the freekeh under cold water and set aside to cool. This preparation can be done in advance and the cooked grain stored in a refrigerator overnight.
Meanwhile bring a second saucepan of water to the boil and cook the broccolini for two minutes or until tender, rinse it under cold water to refresh and combine it with the freekeh, parsley and tarragon. Add the orange juice, zest, lavender, olive oil and honey to a jar and shake vigorously to combine. Fold the dressing through and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Note: Although I've said the salad can be served immediately it actually does even better to be refrigerated and served the next day as the freekeh will take up more of the flavours overnight.
Seasonal guide / temperate climate
Broccolini, late autumn through winter.
When choosing broccolini make sure the florets are tight and green with firm stems and moist ends. Store it unwashed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Broccolini is best when cooked. It can be sautéed, steamed, roasted or grilled.
Crusty bread, shaved parmesan, roasted almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts, currants, asparagus, peas.