Charred Broccolini with Preserved Lemon

This charred broccolini with preserved lemon and caper dressing is delicious as a side dish or salad. And you can turn leftovers into broccoli pesto! Or add brown lentils and toasted seeds for a satisfying vegan meal.

Charred broccolini is my most trusted side dish. I love to serve it hot from the oven – or the BBQ in summer – or at room temperature with salty cheese (like feta, pecorino or parmesan cheese) and a generous sprinkle of toasted seeds.

The oven does most of the work for you, rendering the broccolini crisp and charred at high heat. All you need to do is whisk together the zesty preserved lemon and caper dressing to enhance the flavour of the charred broccolini.

And just like that you have a delicious side dish with hardly any effort, perfect for busy weeknight meals.

Charred broccolini (tenderstem broccoli) with preserved lemon marinade.

Why you’ll love charred broccolini

This charred broccolini recipe is one of my favourite side dishes. And there are many reasons to love it:

  • It’s easy to make: The dish requires just a few ingredients, and it’s ready in under 30 minutes. The oven does most of the work for you while you prep the rest of your dinner.
  • It’s versatile: Serve it hot as a vegetable side dish or add feta and toasted seeds for a room-temperature charred broccolini salad. And for a more substantial plant-based meal, add a cup of cooked brown lentils.
  • It’s flavour-packed: The preserved lemon and caper dressing is a bright and flavourful marinade that elevates the natural earthy sweetness of the cooked broccolini.
  • It’s suitable for dietary requirements: This recipe is naturally gluten-free, low-carb and plant-based. The charred broccolini is the perfect low-effort side dish for any crowd.

What is broccolini?

While it may look like baby broccoli, broccolini is a hybrid vegetable. It’s a cross between gai lan (also known as Chinese kale or Chinese broccoli) and good old broccoli.

Broccolini goes by different trademarked brands. So, depending on your region, you may also know them as Tenderstem broccoli, Bimi broccoli or simply leafy-stemmed broccoli.

Can I use regular broccoli in this recipe?

Charred broccolini is my favourite, but you can absolutely use regular broccoli (calabrese broccoli) too. Just keep in mind that the thicker stems take longer to cook through.

I include instructions for charring both broccolini and broccoli in the charred broccolini recipe card.

The zesty dressing also works spectacularly well with other vegetables like Romanesco broccoli, cauliflower florets and green beans.

You can even roast frozen broccoli to toss in the dressing for the ultimate weeknight convenience. I always have a bag of frozen broccoli for any healthy side dish emergency.

Ingredients and substitutes

This charred broccolini recipe calls for a few simple ingredients. But it’s the combination of flavours that make it special.

  • Broccolini (or broccoli): I use broccolini in this recipe because they’re sweet and crunchy. But you can use regular broccoli florets if you don’t have broccolini. You can also use broccoli rabe (rapini) – they’re more bitter but you probably already know if they’re your vibe.
  • Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil for roasting. But you can also use other cooking oils like sunflower oil or avocado oil.
  • Capers: Capers are a great addition to this dish – they add a briny flavour to the broccolini. But if you don’t have capers, you can use olives instead.
  • Preserved lemon skins: Preserved lemon skins add a salty and intensely citrusy flavour. If you don’t have any preserved lemons on hand, try this quick preserved lemon substitute made from fresh lemon slices. Or simply add a generous amount of fresh lemon zest.
  • Garlic: I use one garlic clove in the recipe, but you can add more if you like. Garlic powder or garlic paste can be substituted in a pinch.
  • Lemon juice: I use freshly squeezed lemon juice in this recipe. But you can also use white or red wine vinegar instead.
  • Salt: I use sea salt to roast the broccolini. But you can also use kosher salt or table salt. And you can use a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to finish your dish.
  • Parsley: Chopped parsley leaves add a fresh, herby flavour. But you can also use other fresh herbs like dill or cilantro.

Optional ingredients

The charred broccolini with its zesty dressing is a delicious side dish as is. But I also like to serve it at room temperature with a few optional toppings:

  • Toasted seeds (like sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower) or nuts (like pine nuts or toasted almonds) add a pleasing crunch.
  • Salty cheese boosts the savouriness and makes the salad a bit more substantial. Try it with chunks of feta cheese, pieces of pecorino, or a generous dusting of grated parmesan cheese.
  • Add some heat with a generous helping of freshly ground black pepper. Or sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

How to char broccolini (or broccoli)

Charred broccolini is a delicious side dish no matter the season.

In the summertime, I love to char broccolini outside over hot coals. Fine weather is the only excuse I need to get a fire going – with a chilled glass of white wine in hand, of course.

On cooler days – or when I prepare a double portion – I turn to the oven.

And when temperatures are soaring, I opt for the stovetop method. The stovetop method is also the best way to cook small batches of broccolini.

How to grill broccolini in the oven

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat it to 440 °F (230 °C).

Meanwhile, put the broccolini (or broccoli) in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss everything well to combine.

When the oven is at temperature, remove the sheet pan and arrange the whole broccolini (or broccoli florets) in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Roast the broccolini until cooked through – turning or stirring after 10 minutes or whenever the charring looks uneven. You want tender broccolini stems with nice crispy, charred edges.

It takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook broccolini and up to 30 minutes for broccoli florets.

Broccolini charred in the oven on a baking tray.

Stovetop charred broccolini

Start by blanching the broccolini. Cook the broccolini in a saucepan with lightly salted simmering water for three minutes until just tender (keep cooking broccoli florets up to five minutes).

Drain the cooked broccolini and transfer it to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Don’t skip this part, or your broccolini will end up overcooked, looking wilted and sad.

Dry the broccolini well and toss with two tablespoons of olive oil.

Place a large cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the broccolini to char for two to three minutes, moving them around for an even char.

Tip for stovetop broccolini:

Avoid overcrowding your pan. Rather char the broccolini in two batches if your pan is not big enough. Overcrowding the pan will encourage the broccolini to steam instead of char.

Give regular broccoli the same treatment.

Broccolini charred over coals

In South Africa, you don’t need an excuse to braai (a traditional BBQ, typically wood-fired if you live in Cape Town as I do). But braaiing veggies is often overlooked. And broccolini is one of my favourite vegetables for grilling outdoors.

Set a grid about 10 cm over hot coals and add your lightly oiled and salted broccolini. Use a tong to turn it regularly until the veggies reach your perfect char.


You can also cook broccoli straight from frozen for an easy side dish that’s always ready to go.

Preserved lemon and caper dressing

This recipe is all about the broccoli marinade. For a citrus lover like myself, preserved lemons are a no-brainer. They have a supercharged lemon flavour. And the bonus is that they are so easy to make at home!

Homemade preserved lemons need a minimum of four weeks before you can start to use them. Luckily, I found an easy stovetop cheat’s preserved lemon recipe for a preserved lemon substitute that’s ready in less than 30 minutes.

To make the dressing, grab a large bowl that can hold the charred broccolini, and combine the ingredients:

  • olive oil,
  • roughly chopped capers,
  • finely chopped preserved lemon skins,
  • a minced garlic clove,
  • fresh lemon juice,
  • salt
  • and chopped parsley.

The key to a flavour-packed side dish is to dress the charred veggies while warm – even if you plan to serve it as a room-temperature salad. It allows the broccoli to absorb more flavour.

So, drop your charred veggies into the dressing as soon as they come from the oven.

Turn the broccolini side dish into a meal

Toothsome brown lentils are the perfect companions for charred broccolini. You can also opt for chickpeas, white beans, or both if you want to bulk up the salad.

  1. Cook half a cup of dry brown lentils (or use 1 cup of pre-cooked/tinned lentils) until just tender, retaining a bit of a bite.
  2. After charring, roughly chop the broccolini and add it to the marinade as instructed in the recipe – taking care to leave a few florets intact for presentation if you want.
  3. Add the cooked and drained lentils to the dressed broccolini and combine.
  4. Finally, sprinkle with feta, toasted seeds and the reserved parsley.
Charred broccolini and lentil salad with preserved lemon and caper dressing.

Leftover charred broccolini ideas

You can refrigerate leftover broccolini in an airtight container for up to four days. They are great to have on hand to turn into new meals.

I love to make a double batch of oven-roasted broccolini, just for the leftover reinvention opportunities. Sometimes I skip serving it as a side dish altogether and head straight for pesto station.

Broccolini and sunflower seed pesto

Turn any leftover charred broccolini with preserved lemon and capers into a delicious broccoli pesto.

Use the pesto as a dip, spread it on toasted bread, whisk it into eggs for a green omelette, or stir through cooked pasta or grains. It’s worth making the broccoli just for the pesto!

If you added feta, pick out any large chunks and set them aside to crumble and stir through the pesto at the end.

To make leftover broccolini pesto:

  1. Roughly chop the charred broccolini.
  2. For every two cups of leftover broccolini, add half a cup of toasted sunflower seeds (or almonds), a tablespoon of preserved lemon liquid (or freshly squeezed lemon juice), and a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Blitz everything in a food processor. Taste and add more salt or preserved lemon to taste.
  4. Stir through four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil – or more if the mixture still looks dry.

Broccoli and labneh toasts

I first saw a recipe for broccoli toast in One Pot, Plan, Planet by Anna Jones.

She reckons we’ve reached peak avocado on toast. And while there is no end to my appreciation for avo toast, I agree that there is enough space for broccoli toasts to share the green toast spotlight.

Anna’s toast is topped with tahini yoghurt, za’atar and grilled leafy-stemmed broccoli.

My version below uses the leftover charred broccolini pesto. But if you can’t be bothered to wash the food processor to make pesto, go ahead and pop the chopped broccolini straight onto the toast.

  1. Toast your sliced bread of choice – I prefer sourdough toasted in a griddle pan.
  2. Spread liberally with labneh (or cream cheese).
  3. Top with the leftover broccolini pesto and a few extra sunflower seeds for crunch. Your broccolini toasts are ready to enjoy!
  4. But if you feel like having a treat – albeit a green one – grate some strong cheddar over the pesto, and place the toasts under a hot grill for 5 to 10 minutes for the cheese to melt.

Charred broccolini with preserved lemon and capers is a firm favourite side dish in my house. I make double just for the leftover reinvention promise it holds. Go ahead, reinvent your own version and let me know how much you loved it!

Charred broccolini with preserved lemon, capers and feta.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between broccoli and broccolini?

Broccolini is a hybrid vegetable that is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It has a milder, sweeter taste than kale and a tender texture. It also typically has longer stems and smaller florets than broccoli.

What does broccolini taste like?

With its slender stem and leafy tops, broccolini can be confused with broccoli rabe. But broccolini has a much sweeter taste. The stems retain a pleasant crunch when cooked.

Are the leaves of broccolini edible?

Yes, the leaves of broccolini are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a slightly more bitter taste than the stems and florets.

Do you cut the stalks of broccolini?

It’s not necessary to cut the stalks of broccolini, just trim the bottommost inch before cooking. However, if you want to cook them quickly, it can help to cut the broccolini stalks into one to two-inch pieces. This will also help them to char more evenly when roasting.

Charred broccolini with preserved lemon and caper dressing on a serving plate.

Charred Broccolini with Preserved Lemon & Caper Dressing

5 from 13 votes
Print Pin
This charred broccolini recipe with its preserved lemon and caper dressing is a delicious warm side dish. Or add feta and toasted seeds if you want a room-temperature charred broccolini salad. You can even add a cup of cooked brown lentils to turn it into a more substantial complete meal.
Recipe byAdri
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes



  • 1 pound broccolini (Tenderstem broccoli), with the ends trimmed, or regular broccoli cut into florets
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, and roughly chopped
  • tablespoons chopped preserved lemon skins*, or preserved lemon puree
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves,

To serve as a broccolini salad (optional)

  • ounces feta (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted seeds (optional)


  • Place the sheet pan in the oven and preheat it to 440 °F.
  • Meanwhile, put the broccolini (or broccoli) in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss everything well to combine.
  • When the oven is at temperature, remove the preheated baking tray and arrange the broccolini (or broccoli) evenly in the tray. Reserve the mixing bowl for the marinade.
  • Roast until cooked with crispy, charred edges – turning or stirring after 10 minutes. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for broccolini and up to 30 minutes for broccoli to reach the perfect tenderness and char in my oven.
  • In the meantime, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the reserved mixing bowl. Add the capers, preserved lemon, garlic, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and most of the chopped parsley. Give the marinade a quick stir.
  • As soon as the broccolini is done cooking, place the just-tender, charred broccolini in the marinade while hot – even if you plan on serving the dish cooled – and toss to combine.
  • Arrange the tenderstem broccoli (or broccoli florets) on a serving plate. Top it with the remaining parsley and serve warm. Alternatively, if you prefer a room-temperature broccolini salad, allow the broccoli to cool down before topping it with the feta and toasted seeds.


This preserved lemon and charred broccolini recipe is inspired by Julia Turshen’s “Charred broccoli with capers and lemon” from Now & Again. A great book if you love to reimagine leftovers as much as I do.
The nutritional information estimates do not include the optional topping ingredients.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 176 kcal Carbohydrates: 9 g Protein: 4 g Fat: 14 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g Monounsaturated Fat: 10 g Sodium: 437 mg Potassium: 25 mg Fiber: 2 g Sugar: 3 g Vitamin A: 2260 IU Vitamin C: 110 mg Calcium: 88 mg Iron: 1 mg


  1. 5 stars
    Made this today as a side for some roast swede with chilli maple butter topped with crumbled feta. Heavenly, will definitely be making again!

    1. I am so happy you enjoyed it! ❤️ And your roast swede with chilli maple butter & feta sounds amazing!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner with Moroccan Fish Tangine, and it was absolutely fantastic. The whole family loved it. Will definitely make again.

    1. Hi Idalena,

      I am thrilled to hear that the whole family enjoyed it! And your Moroccan fish tagine sounds like the perfect pairing. Super yum!

      Thank you for popping in!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a recipe rating: