What's the Difference Between Broccoli and Broccolini?

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When a recipe calls for broccolini, you might be tempted to substitute broccoli florets that you already have in your fridge. After all, they’re pretty much the same thing—right? Wrong. Though they taste and look similar, broccoli and broccolini have a few differences that are worth noting.  

Broccoli vs. Broccolini vs. Chinese Broccoli

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Broccoli’s origins can be traced back to Italy, more than 2,000 years ago. Broccolini is a much newer vegetable—it was created in 1993. Because of its resemblance to broccoli, many people assume it’s just a smaller version of the cruciferous vegetable. However, it’s actually a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. 

What Is Broccoli?

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Broccoli bouquet, anyone? Though it may sound strange, broccoli is basically a large, edible flower. Its florets and stalk can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes. Broccoli is a divisive vegetable—some people love it, while others think it tastes unpleasantly bitter.

The green cruciferous vegetable is often lauded as a superfood because of its high fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins K and C content. 

Broccoli Recipes

  • Broccoli Fried Rice with Kimchi Cream
  • Easy Broccoli Salad
  • Shaved Broccoli-Apple Salad with Tarragon Dressing and Bacon

What is Broccolini?

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Broccolini was developed as a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli in Japan. It looks almost identical to broccoli, but is much smaller and more delicate. Though broccoli and broccolini have very similar flavors, broccolini is slightly sweeter and could be compared to asparagus. Broccolini is high in fiber and vitamins C and A.

Broccolini Recipes

  • Roasted Broccolini
  • Panko-Crusted Broccolini
  • Chicken with Broccolini and Farro-Beet Salad

What Is Chinese Broccoli?

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Chinese broccoli is also known as gai lan (Cantonese) and jie lan (Mandarin). It’s a leafy green vegetable with thick stems and thick leaves that look like collards. Its flavor is similar to broccoli, but it’s slightly more pungent. Also like broccoli, Chinese broccoli is low in calories but rich in nutrients such as vitamins B6 and K. 

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