Spicy Sautéed Sesame Garlic Broccolini

Spicy Sesame Garlic Broccolini - a quick & easy side dish that's great alongside salmon, chicken or tofu! via forkknifeswoon.com

Two broccoli recipes in a row? I know.

Maybe it’s the holiday cookie withdrawals, but I’ve been craving super fresh, vegetable-laden bowls of goodness like nobody’s business. Especially dark, leafy greens. Broccoli, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, you name it.

While I promise I won’t exclusively be giving you brassica recipes in the foreseeable future, I do want to highlight more veggie-centric, seasonal dishes around here.

I also want to simply post more recipes around here, which is something many of you have been asking for, including in the latest reader survey (loving reading the responses so far!). So going forward, expect to see me popping in with a few more quick and easy, short and sweet recipes like this one, in addition to longer, more photo-laden posts.

 Spicy Sesame Garlic Broccolini - a quick & easy side dish that's great alongside salmon, chicken or tofu! via forkknifeswoon.com

There were a few heads of broccolini left over from this pasta, on the verge of being abandoned in the crisper, and begging to be put to good use, so taking a nod from Chinese-style, stir-fried broccoli/kai-lan – a close relative of broccolini – I sautéed the tender broccolini stalks in a spicy mixture of sesame oil, garlic and fresh chili paste.

I generally prefer the slender stalks and sweeter flavor of broccolini to broccoli, and love that it only takes a few minutes to cook to al dente perfection. The freshness and slight bitterness of the greens stand up well to a bold and spicy sauce – like this sesame-chili sauce – and the finished sautéed broccolini makes for a quick and healthy side dish that pairs nicely alongside rice, fish, or another favorite protein source (I think crispy tofu would also be great).

Spicy Sesame Garlic Broccolini - a quick & easy side dish that's great alongside salmon, chicken or tofu! via forkknifeswoon.com

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Spicy Sautéed Sesame Garlic Broccolini

  • Author: Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x


  • 1 pound broccolini (sometimes labeled as baby broccoli)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 tsp pure cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Trim any rough ends/bits off of the broccolini stalks. Cut thicker stalks (greater than 1/2-inch) in half lengthwise. Fill a large bowl with ice water, set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccolini, and cook for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil and 1 Tbsp of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, and cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili paste and sugar, and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
  4. Drain the broccolini, and gently pat (mostly) dry with a paper towel. Add the broccolini to the skillet, and drizzle with the remaining oil and vinegar. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, until tender but still bright green (think vibrant, al dente, not limp). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Best enjoyed immediately!


Look for fresh chili paste (my favorite is Sambal Oelek) in Asian supermarkets, well-stocked grocery stores, and on Amazon.

Chinese broccoli or broccoli rabe can easily be substituted for the broccolini (though will be a bit more bitter).

Spicy Sesame Garlic Broccolini - a quick & easy side dish that's great alongside salmon, chicken or tofu! via forkknifeswoon.com

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  1. 2.24.21
    Suzanne said:

    This looks so good! What a quick and easy way to make some leftovers more interesting!

  2. 9.23.18
    Samantha said:

    This looks positively bursting with flavour!!

  3. 7.30.18

    Hi Laura, I just tried this tonight. I thought that the step for pat drying the broccoli should go before you heat up the pan, otherwise what’s on the pan could start burning before the broccoli makes it in there! Or I’m slow as heck! Otherwise, thought it was a great base recipe for broccolini with a kick!

    • 8.1.18
      Laura said:

      Maybe I was overly optimistic about how long it takes? Thanks for the tip 🙂

  4. 7.15.18
    Atashi said:

    I switched the sugar out for mirin. Yummy!

  5. 1.31.18
    Samantha said:

    Could Sriracha be used in place of the chili paste? I’ve never used either & was planning on buying some Sriracha this weekend. Just wondering if I could avoid buying two items.

  6. 1.13.16
    Joan said:

    This looks like a tasty alternative to our usual steamed and topped with a little parmesan or butter broccoli. Yum!

  7. 1.13.16
    Amy said:

    I’m with you on the broccolini thing – so much better than regular broccoli! This sounds gorgeous – I don’t often put as much effort as I should into ‘side dish’ veggies – most nights they’re just steamed and put on the side as the obligatory ‘must-eat’ bit, but I think I might need to start giving them more attention every day rather than just on special occasions!

    • 1.13.16
      Laura said:

      My go-to for side dish veggies is quick roasting… maybe steamed, but that’s about it. Working on getting a bit more creative in the new year! Thanks for your comment, Amy!!

  8. 1.12.16
    Katrina said:

    I love the sauce in this dish! So much flavour for that broccolini.

Hi! I'm Laura, the food-obsessed cook, writer, and photographer behind Fork Knife Swoon, where you'll find mostly sweet, seasonal recipes and stories from my Northern Virginia kitchen.

All photography and content copyright Laura Bolton ©2021.