Inspired by local produce treasures, this remake of broccoli salad will please (almost) everyone!
You never know what you are going to find at the farmers market or the farm stand this time of year. This week, I found some lovely, just-picked broccolini in flower and I knew I would use every part of it in all its beauty.
I have a gathering planned for this weekend, so my mind has been wandering around the recipe garden in my brain as I plan what to make. There are always salads, and one that has been popular is the broccoli salad that seems to be everywhere: broccoli, bacon, onion, apple, lots of mayonnaise, and lots of sugar. You know the one. People love it, except for the vegetarians and those who have to watch their saturated fat intake. So I thought a vegetarian version with a little less fat might fill the order, and liven things up.
Use every part of the plant
The broccolini was an obvious swap for the broccoli. Every part of the broccolini plant is edible, the stalks, leaves, and flowers, and they are also quite tasty. Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and a Chinese kale. It tastes nothing like either, and some people, like my mother, who do not like broccoli do like this vegetable.
I decided to keep the apple, but swap out the onion for the beautiful scallions I found at the market. The radishes were beautiful today as well, so into the basket they went.
Crispy garlic to the rescue
I needed a crispy accent. I thought about using soy bacon in this, but sometimes it loses all its crispness when added to a dressed salad, and soggy fake bacon is not terribly appetizing. I love the crispy little garlic slices that you toast in butter and bring almost a little too far, and since I was pondering a roasted garlic dressing, I knew I had my crunch. No one will miss the bacon!
Make ahead for a stress-free event
By making this salad in advance, the flavors will be able to blend with one another, and it will save lots of time the day of. Anything I can prep the day before is a bonus.
All I need to do now is think of another salad, because we do have a sesame allergy as well…
Broccolini Salad with Toasted Garlic
2 bunches of broccolini, with flowers if possible
1 large apple, diced
Half a juicy lemon
4 or 5 scallions, white and green, sliced
4 or 5 radishes
2 tsp. butter
10 fat cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
Put a large pot of water on to boil, and while it is heating, set up your “shocking” station. Fill a large bowl one-third full with ice; your colander or strainer will need to fit into it.
Prep your vegetables. Chop up your apple and sprinkle with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Slice your scallions and radishes. Put the apple, scallions, and radishes in a large bowl you will mix the entire salad in.
Separate the flowers from the broccolini and reserve for garnish. Remove the leaves, rip them up and add to the other vegetables. Chop up the broccolini into desired bite-sized pieces and place in a colander or sieve you will use to drain it later on. You should have just over a quart.
Once the water comes to a boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the chopped-up broccolini. Set the timer for three minutes, the water probably won’t have time to come back to the boil, but this is all the time it needs to set the color and flavor and mellow the rawness.
While the broccolini blanches, fill the ice bowl with water and place in the sink, and place the colander next to it. Once the timer goes off, drain the broccolini into the colander and place the whole thing immediately in the ice water bowl. You don’t want any blanched vegetable to stay in the water longer than it takes to cool because you will start to lose some of your nutrients to the water. By setting up the colander in the large bowl of ice water, you can take the entire thing out and drain without having to fish the little pieces out of the floating ice!
Shake to drain further and scatter them on a towel to dry before adding to the other vegetables.
Peel and slice the garlic cloves.
In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the garlic cloves. Reduce the heat. You want to brown the garlic to a nice nutty flavor, but you have to keep it moving in the pan so it does not burn. When it is at the exact level of brown you want, strain it immediately. Save the butter to use on baguette slices (waste not)!
Reserve the garlic for garnish.
Dress the vegetables with Roasted Garlic Tahini Dressing below, then plate in a pretty bowl.
Garnish with the toasted garlic and the reserved flowers. Refrigerate for at least two hours, but overnight is better.
Serves 10 -12.
Optional Additions: You can add nuts to this if you want, or any other of your family’s traditional broccoli salad additions such as raisins.
Roasted Garlic and Tahinni Dressing
1 head roasted garlic
2 tbsp. tahini
2 tbsp. plain yoghurt
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. olive oil
Zest and juice of one large or two small lemons
Pinch of cayenne
To roast the garlic, cut the top half inch or so off the garlic head, pace it root side down on a square of foil, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Place in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. To remove the pulp, let it cool, then squeeze the whole thing. The luscious, sweet cloves will pop right out.
Place the roasted garlic cloves and all the other ingredients in a small food processor or blender and twirl it all around until smooth.
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