Chosen Eats: Broccolini and Sweet Sesame Salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”

Every once in a while I receive one of those recipe-sharing chain emails asking me to send one of my favorite dishes to some mutual friends, then add myself to the list and wait for the recipes to coming pouring in. Admittedly, I’m usually quick to delete these emails, hoping no one will notice and that the whole well-intentioned project won’t come to a screeching halt because of my laziness.

I recently received one of these emails, but I didn’t send it directly to the trash. Instead, I had a recipe in mind that I felt I needed to share. I’d had this recipe once before and remade it recently for my sister’s bridal shower. After the shower, it started an onslaught of similar emails—guests who had attended the shower, asking for the recipe.

This recipe just does that to people! Yotam Ottolenghi’s fanfare is always well-deserved; his recipes are creative and memorable. But this salad—a combination of blanched green vegetables and a tahini sauce—is one of my favorites. The vegetables provide crunch while the creamy dressing hits all of the flavor notes, thanks to the nutty tahini, spicy garlic, sweet honey, salty tamari and tart mirin. Simple and surprisingly flavorful, this salad is the perfect summer side dish.

Broccolini and Sweet Sesame Salad
From “Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi” by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 4

4 tablespoons tahini
2½ tablespoons water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
½ teaspoon tamari
½ tablespoon honey
1½ tablespoons mirin
Pinch salt

¾ pounds broccolini
¾ cup green beans
2 cups snow peas or snap peas
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 ½ cups cilantro
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds

To make the sauce: Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. The sauce should be smooth and thick but with a pourable consistency, so adjust the amount of water as necessary. Taste and add more salt, if you like.

Trim off any leaves from the broccolini. If the stalks are thick, cut them lengthwise into two or four, so you are left with long and thinner stalks, similar in size to the green beans. Trim off the stalk ends of the beans and peas, keeping them separate.

Bring a medium pan of unsalted water to a boil. Blanch the green beans for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just tender but still crunchy. Lift into a colander and refresh under running cold water; drain and dry well with a tea towel. In the same water blanch the snow peas for 2 minutes; refresh, drain and dry. Repeat the process with the broccolini, blanching it for 2 to 3 minutes.

Mix all the vegetables together in a bowl with the oil. You can now serve the salad in two ways. For one, stir most of the cilantro leaves, sesame and nigella seeds in with the vegetables and pile up on a serving dish; pour the sauce on top and finish with the remaining cilantro and seeds. Alternatively, pile the vegetables on a serving plate, dotting with cilantro leaves and sprinkling with seeds as you go; serve the sauce in a bowl on the side.