Creamy Risotto with Broccolini & Walnut Agrodolce


Creamy Risotto with Broccolini & Walnut Agrodolce

Meet broccolini, the slender-stalked broccoli lookalike in Chef Ryan’s Creamy Risotto with Broccolini & Walnut Agrodolce. It didn’t even exist until the 1990s, when Japanese growers decided to cross broccoli with Chinese kale (Gai Lan).

Chinese kale.

Broccolini inherited a slight mustard kick form the Chinese kale, but that evaporates during cooking. The finished version is slightly sweeter than regular broccoli.

However, if you enjoy a tiny kick, eating it raw is fine – and much less work than munching on raw broccoli!  

Thanks to broccolini’s culinary versatility and nutritious value, its popularity has soared in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.

You may have seen it marketed as:

  •  aspiration 
  •  aspabroc
  •  broccolette
  •  broccoletti
  •  sprouting broccoli

or baby broccoli.

Broccolini vs. Broccoli: a Nutritional Comparison

Cook broccolini to remove its mustard bite.

As highly nutritious cruciferous vegetables, broccoli and broccolini provide:

  • Vitamin C (Broccoli, 169% RDA; Broccolini, 105% RDA per 1 cup)
  • Vitamin A (Broccoli, 48% RDA; Broccolini, 39% RDA per 1 cup)

Broccoli also weighs in with slightly higher amounts of potassium and fiber. That said, much of its fiber is in its stalks – and most broccoli recipes call for removing them before cooking!

If you do remove them, don’t let them go to waste!  Chop them up and use them as vegetables or save them for soup or vegetable stock instead.

Broccolini Fights Cancer

Like other crucifers, broccolini contains the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. University of Michigan researchers found that sulforaphane inhibited breast cancer stem cells’ growth rate between 65 and 85 percent!

It also exhibited a remarkably detoxifying effect in this study, headed by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The 291 participants from a rural Chinese village known for its “… substantial levels of airborne pollutants”  had a high risk of developing:

  • lung cancer

    Broccoli sprouts, super-detoxifiers.
  • chronic bronchitis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • congestive heart failure

and emphysema.

Randomly assigned to two groups, the villagers drank either a broccoli-sprout or a green placebo beverage every day for 12 weeks.

On the first day, the broccoli-sprout group experienced a 60-percent drop in their carcinogenic benzene level and a 23 percent drop in toxic acrolein!

The researchers concluded:

“The key finding from this clinical trial was the observed rapid and highly durable elevation of the detoxification of benzene, a known human carcinogen, and acrolein metabolites.”

Other research indicates that cruciferous vegetables also have tumor-suppressing properties. (More 0n sulforaphane and dried broccoli here.)

Cruciferous Veggies Boost Liver Function

A 2019 study headed by Harvard Medical School’s Cancer Research Center suggests their compound I3C suppresses the cancer-promoting enzyme WWP1.

Even more remarkably, cruciferous veggies not only suppress harmful enzymes; they stimulate the growth of good ones!

For example, researchers from London’s Imperial College School of Medicine demonstrated broccoli’s energizing effect on liver-enzyme production.

They found that people eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts every day required more coffee to achieve their usual caffeine buzz.


Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, broccolini fights cancer.

Their crucifer-stimulated livers were metabolizing the coffee so much faster! While it means drinking more to keep your caffeine buzz, the broccoli buzz is even more important!

The London researcher also tested the effects of a crucifer-rich diet on meat carcinogens. Over three 12-day periods, the participants ate:

  • Cooked meat alone
  • Cooked meat and broccoli
  • Cooked meat alone (again) 

The results?

  1. During Period 1, their carcinogen levels rose.
  2. During Period 2, their broccoli-buzzed livers significantly reduced the carcinogen levels.

And during Period 3?

In this Nutrition Facts video review, Dr. Michael Greger answers that question: 

“But, this is what blew them away. In period three, again, same amount of meat, but they took away the veggies. Yet, their liver function appeared to remain enhanced two weeks later. So, there appears to be a prolonged beneficial effect of cruciferous vegetable consumption.”

Think about it! The broccoli you eat today continues protecting your body for weeks to come!

I could go on and on about the Broccoli family veggies’ many health benefits, such as strong anti-inflammatory properties. But I think I’ll save them for another day.

Right now, I’m hungry for some of Ryan’s Creamy Risotto with Broccolini & Walnut Agrodolce recipe – and I hope you’ll join me!


Creamy Risotto with Broccolini & Walnut Agrodolce

creamy risotto with broccolini
  • Author: Karen Rominger
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


4 cups vegetable broth

2 T miso paste

2 shallots

2 garlic cloves

1 bunch broccolini

1/2 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup light lentils

1/4 cup walnuts

2 T raisins

2 T apple cider vinegar

1 lemon

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add 4 cups of broth and miso paste to a simmer.
  3. Mince garlic, dice onion, and trim broccolini. Halve the lemon and juice it.
  4. Add minced onion and garlic to a skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Stir often and add splashes of broth to prevent sticking, add rice and lentils to skillet and cook for another few minutes.
  6. Add small amounts of heated broth to the mixture until cooked through, app. 30-40 min. Stir frequently.
  7. While that’s cooking add walnuts to a small skillet to toast, break up the walnuts if you don’t want larger pieces.  Then toss with raisins, sliced shallots, vinegar, and salt.
  8. Roast broccoli on a baking sheet in the oven with a spritz of lemon and salt for 10-12 min.
  9. Add lemon juice to finished risotto with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Portion risotto into two bowls and lay roasted broccolini on one side.  Divide walnut agrodolce between bowls and place in the center.  Enjoy!

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