Monday, April 1, 2013

Lemon Brocollini

 When I was growing up, the ONLY vegetables my mom could get me to eat were corn and green beans....oh and potatoes (are those vegetables?)  However, my mom and my grandmother, who lived with us until I was 10 years old, cooked vegetables until they were mushy.  They were great cooks but they preferred mushy and I, though I didn't know it at the time, prefer crisp tender veggies. 

As newlyweds, we used to go out with a couple, The Blackwells, who loved to entertain at home.  That was when I was introduced to a different type of cooking.  She liked to cook with lots of fresh garlic (not garlic powder) and use fresh herbs to flavor her vegetables.  She also NEVER overcooked her veggies.  They were usually very simply done and crisp tender where I could still taste the freshness of the vegetables.  Now that I am thinking about her, she would make her own salad dressing. Oh my gosh...I learned the best does not come in a bottle! I need to blog her basic salad dressing...I still use it and it is one of my very favorites.  I have several dressing recipes so that would be a good idea for a blog soon! does not take much to get me sidetracked.  Anyway...what I wanted to convey is that everyone has their own preferences about the way they like their veggies, but I have found that I like my veggies more undercooked than overcooked.  I like my green veggies to have a bright green color with a little bit of a crunch (crisp tender) when I eat them. 

This new little veggie was a request by my daughter, Holly, for Easter Lunch.   I had never eaten Broccolini, much less cooked it.  But, I have cooked broccoli millions of times.  To me, Broccolini reminds me of a skinny Broccoli stalk.  I googled "what is broccolini" and got 3 different answers.  So, it is either a hybrid of broccoli and kale, Chinese chard, or Chinese broccoli.  It does have a little bit of a bitter aftertaste like cabbage or swiss chard but the butter, garlic and lemon cuts that and leaves you with a great side dish that is healthy and satisfying.

NOTE:  My daughter, Holly, is breastfeeding her new baby, Alex.  She had broccolini Friday night at a restaurant and Alex was fussy that night.  He was also fussy last night after she had eaten broccolini at my house.  Since he is so young, 3-1/2 weeks, we are still trying to figure out his cries, his likes, dislikes, etc.  So, the first night we didn't think much about Holly's diet but after it happened again, we started thinking about what was similar about the two days...and broccolini was a common denominator.  Still not sure if that was what it was but we think that it is very likely.  Just thought I would mention it in case you are breastfeeding or cooking this for someone who is.

This dish is now going to be one of my favorite go-to side dishes.  I LOVE  lemon and garlic together and it goes perfectly on this vegetable.  It was a perfect compliment to the Easter menu and I think for really any menu.  I think I will try toasting some pine nuts and adding it to this recipe.  Also, some crushed red pepper would add a little kick.  You could also substitute the broccolini with Asparagus and've got another recipe for a very versatile veggie!!!  Hope you give it a try...let me know if you do!


1-lb Broccolini
1-2 tablespoons of Butter
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1-2 teaspoons lemon zest (add one to start with and after tasting everything together you can always add another teaspoon)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
Freshly ground Pepper

Cut approximately an inch off the ends of the broccolini.  Broccolini is served with the stems so just trim to get the dry ends off.

Place in a microwave safe glass dish with approximately 1/2 cup of water, cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes. 

Take out of microwave and remove cover (be careful the steam will getcha). 

In small dish put the butter and garlic in and place in the microwave for about 1 minute.  You just want the garlic to flavor the butter slightly.

Drain the butter away from the garlic and add just the butter to the broccolini.

Actually, you could add the butter and garlic to the dish if you like.  I love garlic but I was trying to keep the garlic taste down because of the menu I was serving. 

Zest about a teaspoon of lemon (I like a little more but remember you can always add but you can't take away) and add it to the broccolini.

Add about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Don't use the bottled lemon just is not the same.
See how bright and green the broccolini still is?
 Sprinkle salt over the broccolini and add some freshly ground pepper.