One of my all-time favorite places to eat in Richmond, VA is Mamma Zu’s. This unassuming restaurant is known for a bustling atmosphere, a garlic trail you can smell down the block, long wait times that are worth the wait, and some of the best Italian food I have ever had. My favorite way to start a meal there is with their delicious lemon garlic broccolini. It’s garlicky infused olive oil strikes just the right balance with the lemon, red pepper flakes and perfectly cooked broccolini. I moved from Richmond almost four years ago and I have been trying to perfect their recipe for years. I have gotten it as close to theirs as possible, but I still bow to their chefs because they are amazing. If you can’t get to Richmond for their broccolini, this is the next best thing.
- 4 bunches of broccolini (1 1/2 lbs.) —trimmed
- 1/3 cup of olive oil, or enough to coat the bottom of medium sauté pan—well
- 4-5 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
- ½ the juice of one lemon
- 1/3 cup of shredded parmesan
- 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Ice for ice bath
Serves 4. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 15 minutes.
Add garlic and olive oil to medium size saute pan. Saute garlic on the lowest possible heat for about 15 minutes.
The longer you cook the garlic, the better this recipe will taste. Cooking on low will help to sweeten the garlic, and cut the bitter taste. The goal is to infuse the olive oil with the garlic flavor without browning the garlic. I like to cook it for 20+ minutes, but 15 minutes will do the trick.
While the garlic is cooking, get a large bowl filled with ice and water ready. Set aside.
Add water and 1/2 the salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil and then add the trimmed broccolini. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Be careful not to overcook. You want the stalks to be tender, the stems to soft, but not mushy, and color to bright green.
Once cooked, add the broccolini to the ice bath. Blanch broccolini to stop them from cooking more. This also helps keep the bright color, texture and keeps more nutrients in the broccolini. Remove and pat dry,
Add red pepper flakes and remaining salt to the saute pan with garlic and olive oil. Add cooked broccolini to the pan. Coat the broccolini with the olive oil and garlic mixture. Heat on low to medium for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, and toss once more. Serve on a platter, top with shredded parmesan.
What to Serve with It
I love this dish with a lighter white cajun seasoned fish like Mahi or Tilapia or a linguini with homemade marinara, and it would also be good with a lighter-style Mediterranean dish . It’s also very good on its own with a baguette to soak up all the delicious olive oil.