Thursday, May 21, 2020

Chopped Broccoli Salad

In my last post I mentioned how much I like chopped broccoli salads.  I realized when I published the post that I didn’t have any examples of that kind of salad on my blog.  There is a chopped raw cauliflower salad...a grated carrot salad…and a couple of slaws…but nothing that features broccoli.  I thought I would fix that omission today.

The salad I’m sharing was inspired by a rather old-fashioned preparation that I ran across on The Modern Proper.  Their salad featured raw broccoli florets tossed with loads of bacon, sunflower seeds and raisins…all doused in a tangy mayonnaise based dressing.  The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly except for one thing.  As mentioned in my previous post, the task of chomping through large florets of raw broccoli is something I prefer to leave to rabbits…or horses….   Cutting medium florets into rough thin slices, and the stems into a similarly rough julienne, creates a vegetable that is much easier for humans to chew…and more importantly gives a much better ratio of dressing to broccoli with each bite. 

I was attracted to the salad because it has a retro feel that places it in the realm of what is often meant by the phrase “comfort food.”  I wrote a post several years ago about a kale salad that featured the flavors of my favorite salad bar concoction from my college days: greens with blue cheese dressing, sunflower seeds, and raisins.  If you swap out the kale for broccoli…and the blue cheese for bacon…you basically have that same set of flavors that seems to hit all my preferred buttons. 

And I liked the salad.  But it struck me as a bit rich.  I shelved it, thinking I might make it occasionally, but not that often.  Then recently when I was rummaging through my fridge for something to turn into a salad to go with my dinner I ran across some broccoli.  For some reason I thought of that particular broccoli salad.  The rest of my dinner was almost ready so I didn’t want to take the time to cook bacon.  It seemed to me the salad would be good without the bacon, so I tried it.  And I loved it.  It was the bacon that had made it seem too rich for my taste that first time. And since the “salty” component (required, I think, to “wake up” brassicas) is amply covered by the salty roasted sunflower seeds and mayonnaise, the bacon really isn’t necessary.

I should apologize for two posts in a row that feature the same vegetable.  But the reality of cooking during a pandemic appears to be a lot of repetition.  This can of course be a good way to explore ways to use familiar ingredients in unfamiliar ways.  So if you eat a lot of broccoli…but have never tried it raw, chopped and tossed with a tasty dressing, you should definitely give this salad a try. 

Chopped Broccoli Salad with Sunflower Seeds & Golden Raisins

3/4 c. (5 1/2 oz/155 g.) mayonnaise
4 t. (1 oz.) honey
2 T. white balsamic or apple cider vinegar (can add another teaspoon if you like an extra tangy dressing)
1/2 t. kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne, optional

1/4 c. finely minced shallot or white of spring onion
1 lb. trimmed broccoli crowns
1/2 to 2/3 c. roasted and salted sunflower seeds (I love sunflower seeds, so I use 2/3 c.)
1/2 c. golden raisins, roughly chopped (or not—your preference)

Place the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Taste and correct the balance and seasoning.  I like my dressing pretty tangy, so I usually add more vinegar…maybe 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.  Set aside.

Rinse the shallot (or onions) under cold running water or soak in a small bowl of ice water for a few minutes.  Drain well.

Trim the broccoli florets away from the stems.  Slice the florets thinly.  You will have little bits and larger pieces.  This is the goal.  Cut the stems into 1- to 1 1/2-inch lengths.  Slice the lengths thinly (rough 1/8th inch thick).  Cut the slices into sticks (a julienne).  Place the chopped broccoli in a large bowl.  Add the shallot, sunflower seeds, and raisins.  Pour the dressing over and toss until the broccoli is well-coated with the dressing.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and vinegar. 

The salad can be served right away, but I like it best if it is chilled at least a half hour.  It is still delicious the next day, too.

Serves four to six as a side dish. 


Karl said...

(The late, great) Souplantation / Sweet Tomatoes made a variation of this, called "Joan's Broccoli Madness". The nut used was cashew, and had no allium of any kind. I've made it with different vinegars, including a pomegranate vinegar from Trader Joe's. I've also swapped out dried cranberries for the raisins.

Paige said...

I had to look up Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes (I guess I don't get out much!). The cashews sound fantastic. I'll have to try them sometime. And yes...I usually use whatever vinegar I have on hand...sometimes I add a little lemon (as in the original Modern Proper recipe). I like vinegars that have a sweet edge for this, so if I have white balsamic or cider vinegar, that's what I reach for.