Roasted Sesame Broccolini

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After eight years living away from Santa Cruz, Jonji and I (now up one cat and a baby) are finally moving back home this coming May. We found a lovely house on a quiet street in midtown that’s owned by friends of ours, who told us we can do what we want with the landscaping (my brain is already whirring away with dreams of raised beds and lavender bushes covered in happy bees).

As excited as we are to finally be so close to our families, I can’t help but feel incredibly sad to leave our little oasis here in San Jose. Our landlord, who raised his two kids here, clearly cares deeply about maintaining the little house and its yard; you can feel that when you’re here. The little house is cozy, full of sweet memories for us: cooking countless dinners for the two of us and our friends before Phoebe arrived, squishing around the little square table in the little square dining room; roaring fires in the tiny wood burning stove during Christmas time, tree twinkling with lights in the corner; rocking Phoebe as she dozed against my chest, gently moving back and forth in her sunlit room while the smell of jasmine wafted through the open window, rainbows dancing across the walls as the window crystal spun in the breeze; Kitty’s last days, her purr as strong as ever. And the wonderful backyard, with two large vegetable beds ready that gave us so many tomatoes, herbs, and greens, a vibrant lawn that cools your feet on warm days, and a bowing mimosa tree, covered with fluffy pink flowers like tiny tutus in late Spring. We let Babs outside for the first time in her life in that yard, her nose lifted to the air, eyes closed, taking in the wide world; I sat on the patio every morning for weeks when I was pregnant and nauseous—it was the only place I didn’t feel sick; I often laid Phoebe on a blanket under the tree when she was tiny, and she would quietly gaze up as the branches shifted in the wind; Phoebe’s first steps, her first laugh. So many memories. I’m sad to leave because those memories feel more vibrant when we’re still in the same place they occurred. But we get to start another adventure in the place we’ve been trying to get back to for almost a decade, and that’s certainly something to look forward to.

One thing we’re excited for are more casual dinners with family and friends. The other day we were over at my parents’ for dinner and Mom topped roasted broccolini with a hefty dose of sesame seeds, which perfectly complimented the vegetable’s natural sweetness. My mom has been obsessed with sesame seeds for years; they coat her sourdough bread inside and out, she rolls all cookies in them before baking, and they’re sprinkled on any savory or sweet recipe she can get away with. Plus, her motto for years has been, “Love yourself and eat sesame seeds.” Serve this broccolini alongside any roasted meat or add to a stir-fry at the very end.

Roasted Sesame Broccolini

2 bunches sweet broccolini
olive oil, to coat
kosher salt
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Trim the stems off the broccolini and rinse to get rid of any dirt or bugs. Shake (or use a salad spinner) as much of the water out as possible.

If the stems are particularly, long, chop the broccolini stalks in half and add them all to a large bowl. Toss with enough olive oil to coat, then scatter the broccolini across two large baking sheets (you can use just one, but the broccolini will steam more than it will crisp). Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, rotate the pans, and cook for another 5 minutes. The broccolini should be a little crispy but still bright green.

Sprinkle each tray with 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, then toss. Serve warm and enjoy!

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