Broccoli gets upgraded, elegant and fancy with this roasted tenderstem broccoli (broccolini) with garlic confit and lemon. A vegetable side dish sure to impress your family for any weeknight dinner, and your guests at your next holiday dinner party, you will love how easy and tasty roasted broccoli really is.
Side dishes are something that I think should never be overlooked when planning a weeknight dinner or holiday party. While they should be complimentary to whatever you're making as a main course, they should also be delicious. And with many of the heavier side dishes of the season, like green bean casserole, this roasted tenderstem broccoli recipe is bright with lemon zest and lemon juice and rich with a sweet garlic confit and olive oil mixture. It adds a lovely acidic balance to sometimes heavy, creamy and cheesy dinners.
What is tenderstem broccoli?
Ever heard of broccolini? I bet you have. Tenderstem broccoli is another name for broccolini. Tenderstem broccoli tastes the same as regular broccoli and is an awesome substitute for regular broccoli in any dish from saucy udon noodles, to chicken and broccoli casserole and even broccoli soup.
While you can certainly use regular broccoli for this recipe, there are other reasons to love and use tenderstem broccoli in roasted vegetable dishes...
- There is almost nothing discarded when using tenderstem broccoli. The long slender stems are totally edible. And the only trimming I really do to these is the peel the stems a tiny bit if they are too thick for a more even cooking time.
- They look nice, and give a nice individual portion. A few whole pieces of tenderstem broccoli look fancy on a plate and work nicely for a pre-plated holiday dinner.
- It is sweeter than regular broccoli. Tenderstem broccoli is less bitter, and strong in smell and flavor in regular broccoli.
Roasted tenderstem broccoli is one of the easiest side dishes you can make. It really only has like four ingredients (plus salt and pepper). But when you eat it, you'd think it has some magical ingredients in it - not at all, just a few staples you likely have that come together for a perfectly balanced roasted vegetable dish.
- Tenderstem broccoli, also known as broccolini
- Olive oil. A good toss in this will help to crisp up the broccoli as it roasts
- Lemon zest
- Garlic confit. This is garlic slow roasted in olive oil, I keep the cloves in a jar on my counter, but you can also quick roast a head of garlic and use the softened cloves. Check out this easy recipe to make your own garlic confit.
- Lemon juice. A squeeze at after roasting will brighten up the entire dish.
- Salt and pepper
Roasting vegetables is one of the easiest ways to cook them that gives you maximum flavor and texture. The best part of roasted tenderstem broccoli (broccolini) is that you don't have to boil it before roasting.
This recipe comes together in just a few minutes. Since tenderstem broccoli has thinner stems and a sweeter flavor, it requires less roasting time, and less seasoning.
Start by smashing the garlic, which will be easy with garlic confit or roasted garlic, because it is totally soft. Scrape the garlic into a bowl, add the olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper.
Put the tenderstem broccoli (broccolini) on parchment on a baking sheet, drizzle with garlic and olive oil mixture, and then toss around a bit. Be sure to spread the broccoli into a single layer on the sheet so it cooks evenly and browns evenly. Throw the pan right in a super hot oven. The broccolini will get a lovely caramelization on the outside with the hot temperature and the garlic confit will slightly crisp up. Roasting tenderstem broccoli (and really any vegetable) also gives a nice concentrated flavor.
When finished roasting, squeeze lemon juice over the broccoli and plate on a serving a dish. That's it, super hands-off, fast with huge flavor.
Ingredient swaps and variations
This roasted tenderstem broccoli with garlic confit and lemon is super adaptable to what you have on hand and what you like. Here is some ideas:
- Use regular broccoli. You can trim to longer stems that resemble tenderstem broccoli.
- Don't have time to roast garlic or make confit? No problem, you can leave it off all together or chop fresh, raw garlic. If going with fresh garlic, juse use less as it is sharper and stronger in flavor.
- Add some parmesan cheese. Grating a bit of parm over the top before roasting will add a lovely cheesy crunch. You can also add some after roasting.
- If you don't have a lemon, simply omit the zest from the olive oil mixture use a splash of red wine, sherry, apple cider or white wine vinegar. The point is to get a little acid in the finished dish, and any of these work fine.
Make sure the give the roasted tenderstem broccoli some space on the pan. You are looking for a roasted, concentrated flavor. Piling all the broccoli on top of eachother will give you a steam instead of a roast.
- baking sheet pan for roasting
- 1 ½ lbs tenderstem broccoli broccolini
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 7 cloves roasted or confit garlic
- lemon zest a whole lemon
- lemon juice from half a lemon
- Preheat your oven to 425 and line a baking sheet pan with parchment or foil.
- On a cutting board smash your roasted/confit garlic cloves with a fork or a butter knife until it is totally smooth like a paste. Scrape the garlic into a small bowl and add the olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Whisk together until totally combined.
- Place the tenderstem broccoli on the lined baking sheet. Pour the garlic olive oil mixture over the broccoli and toss to coat. Be sure to scrape all the garlic bits out of the bowl and onto the broccoli. SPread the broccoli out into an even layer with a little bit of space between pieces.
- Roast in the oven about 20 minutes until slightly charred around the edges and the broccoli looks a bit crisp.
- Remove from the oven and squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli. Transfer to a serving plate and adjust salt and pepper seasoning if needed.