If you’re looking for a side dish to give the main entrée a run for its money, this is it.
Even though most of our days here are still shivering cold, there have been a few sunny, nice looking days here and there. And that is good enough reason for me to start getting excited for spring. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Everything gets fresher and a little bit brighter. And nothing says spring more than lots of green, something this dish is definitely not lacking in!
I picked up some beautiful broccolini from Whole Foods, grabbed a few large spring onions, and found a bag of brussels sprouts in my fridge. Plenty of green to do something delicious with. I start by blanching all the vegetables in boiling water. Each vegetable cooks at a different rate, so keep them all separate. The brussels take the longest since they’re so firm, probably about 4-5 minutes. The spring onions need about 3-4 minutes. And the broccolini takes no time at all to blanch, just about 1-2 minutes. When blanching, don’t overcrowd the pot and check the vegetable’s tenderness often. Over-blanched vegetables will me mushy and not very appealing. Transfer the veggies to an ice bath and make sure they are completely dry before grilling.
Once the vegetables are blanched, they don’t need much more time to actually cook. All they need is some time on the grill to develop that beautiful charred look and flavor. I keep it super simple by coating the vegetables, as well as a few sliced lemons, in a generous amount of oil along with a good seasoning of salt and black pepper before tossing them on the grill. Once you have nice grill marks on everything, you’re good to go. The lemons are my favorite part. They get super sweet and caramelized and go perfectly with the lemon yogurt that’s served on the side.
I use thick, Greek yogurt, which is a bit sour for me on its own. But once you add a little lemon juice, lemon zest, and some good seasoning, the yogurt transforms into a wonderful citrusy sauce for the vegetables. The bright flavors of the sauce contrast with the deep, charred flavors of the vegetables, resulting in such a good combo. The last touch is a spicy pine nut topping. It adds lots of flavor to the dish with garlic, red pepper flakes, and sweet dried currants. Such a perfect springtime side dish. Enjoy!
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 12 oz broccolini, trimmed
- 12 oz brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
- 3 large spring onions, halved lengthwise
- 5 lemon slices, halved
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup dried currants
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- Whisk together the greek yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Preheat the grill (or heat a grill pan over high heat). In a large pot of boiling, salted water, blanch the broccolini until bright green and tender, just a few minutes. Transfer the broccolini to an ice bath. Once cooled, transfer the broccolini to a paper towel lined sheet pan. Repeat the blanching process with the brussels sprouts and spring onions. Make sure each vegetable is fully dry. Toss each vegetable, as well as the sliced lemons, with canola oil, salt, and black pepper. Grill until slightly charred, making sure to get nice grill marks on both sides. Transfer everything to a platter and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts over low heat in a sauté pan, continually tossing them so they don’t burn. Once golden brown and toasty, add the olive oil. Crush the cloves of garlic with the flat side of your knife and toss those into the pan. Add the currants and red pepper flakes. Let the mixture cook over low heat for about 3 minutes. Discard the garlic.
- Spoon the topping over the grilled vegetables and lemon slices. Serve with the lemon yogurt on the side.
- An "ice bath” is simply a bowl of cold ice water. It is used to stop the cooking process of vegetables after they have been blanched. This technique keeps the vegetables vibrant and full of color. Since it stops the cooking, it also prevents the vegetables from becoming mushy.