Thursday, March 27, 2014

Broccolini What?

I think I have some kind of black rash on my face...
A couple weeks ago, after the first West Pennsylginia Spring Classic, the ABRA Training Race at the base of the Laurel Mountains in Fairchance, PA, the Allegheny Cycling Association was to hold their annual Awards Banquet at Lattitude 40. Like so many of the race participants, at the conclusion of the racing, I packed up and quickly headed for parts north. This was going to be my second Banquet that I’d be attending and was really looking forward to the evening with Amber and so many of my cycling friends. The first year was a very special year for me because I took home the Individual Championship in the “C”s with Teammate Shawn Geiger taking home 4th place honors in the “C”s as well.  And this year was special for another reason as the Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder Cycling Team took home the Team Championship in the “B”s and I would be introduced as one of the new board members for the ACA.  After getting all gussied up, Amber and I headed out to Robinson with Mackdiddle in tow.  At almost 2 years old, it can be a real crap shoot as to whether or not she is going to be on her best behavior.  I swear she has already learned to say the word “NO” in 14 different languages as well as morse code. But on this night, we were blessed with the little angel that we know and love.  Thank God for answered prayers!
All gussied up!


For someone who LOVES bubbles, this lighted bubble wall left a lasting impression on Mackdiddle 

For a second year in a row, the food was outstanding and with the asparagus being on the menu, I was reminded about the previous year when I discovered my love for that vegetable. Up until I was 41 years old, I had it ingrained in my head that I hated that particular vegetable. But being left with no other healthy option, I had put a healthy portion on my plate and vowed to myself that I would eat as much as I could without complaining about it. To my surprise, I found myself devouring that, plus a second portion as I had found a new favorite veggie.  And as I sat there eating dinner this year, I kindof laughed to myself out how ironic it was that I went from cringing at the thought of eating asparagus to buying 4-5 pounds in an average month. (Heck, there are 4 pounds of it in my fridge right now.) And with that little revelation, my mind started wandering... what are some other vegetables that I shy away from because I learned as a kid to hate them. Or what have I've never tried because I always had a different, more familiar option to eat instead?  I made up my mind to be more open to trying new foods, especially healthy ones and to make decisions based on whats true for my tastebuds and not on stories.

Ten days later, I found myself shopping Brunton's Chocolate milk at McGinnis Sisters in Monroeville. With a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, I was reminded of my promise I had made myself at the banquet. So I started shopping the produce aisle. One of the things that caught my eye was Brocolini. So I grabbed a "bunch" and checked out. When I got back to the office, I googled Broccolini and found out that it was a cross between Broccoli and Chinese Kale. It had florets similar to its big brother but had stalks more like the consistency of asparagus. I found a recipe or two online and thought sauteing them in butter, garlic, salt, and a dash of red pepper sounded good. But when I got home, Amber said she was in the mood to make one of her favorites, pasta with broccoli and cheese. With a little convincing, I persuaded her to give the Broccolini a go. 

So we started prepping. I blanched the broccolini in salt water and after a couple minutes, shocked them in an ice bath. On a whim, I blanched some of the asparagus for a few minutes as well and added that to the dish. 

Amber prepared 2 boxes of whole wheat rotini and started dicing a small block of Monterey Jack. 

With the pasta done, we placed that into a cold water bath to stop the cooking process as well. We set aside a portion of the plain pasta for Mackdiddle to snack on this week. We cut the broccolini and asparagus into about 1 inch long sections and added that to the bowl with the cheese cubes. A little parmesan cheese, lite italian dressing, and some chia seeds and dinner was ready.

So my thoughts on the broccolini is that I will definitely eat it again.  As you might expect, it tastes alot like broccoli but with a flavor all its own. In hindsight, its a safe food adventure but it was nice to actually get Amber to try a new food with out having to threaten her with bodily harm.

If I had my own rating scale, I would give it a 5 out of a possible 5 cranks.

Spoiler alert... I also bought Golden Beets. I haven't eaten beets since I was about 6 years old and eating dinner at my friend, Gregg Cooks. Stay tuned for my impressions of that adventure