Monday, April 5, 2010

Broccoli Salad

To many of us, "salad" means "lettuce"- but it doesn't have to be...

This one was somewhat inspired by a dish called Catalan Spinach (originally from a cousin)- which was essentially fresh baby spinach sauteed in garlic olive oil with pine nuts and raisins added.

It really only takes a few minutes to cook the broccoli in boiling water.
But you have to pay attention and stay close, because you will find broccoli can suddenly become overcooked, mushy, and gray-green.

We're going for a vibrant green here, not the "grade school cafeteria" look.
Broccoli isn't always a kid's favorite vegetable. Does this refer to vegetables in general for most kids, the texture, or the fact that it's green?

You do not have to use the fifth garlic clove if you don't like things so garlicky.
When garlic is finely minced or pulverized it has a stronger flavor because more of the cells within the garlic clove are damaged (than with a rough chop) and the flavorful compounds are released. Compared to a strong and sharp clove of minced garlic, whole roasted bulbs of garlic have a mild and sweet flavor. If you like the extra garlic flavor, use the last clove of garlic when making the dressing.

To crush garlic, you can use the flat side of a knife over the top of the clove and add some pressure from your hand until you feel and hear it break. Or, you can forgo the knife and just use the heel of your hand.

Broccoli Salad

3 lb. broccoli florets
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, separated
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 t salt
pepper to taste
1/2-2/3 c raisins
1/2-2/3 c pecans (chopped) or pine nuts, toasted

Add 4 crushed and roughly chopped garlic cloves to olive oil in small saucepan over low heat. Cook garlic with oil until it simmers about 3 minutes. Do not let garlic brown. Remove from heat and let cool.
Whisk together balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in garlic oil until emulsified. Add one finely minced clove of garlic to dressing if you want a stronger garlic flavor.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Place raisins in small bowl. Remove some of the hot water and add to raisins to plump for a few minutes if you wish. Drain water from raisins. Add broccoli to boiling water and cook about 3-5 minutes (you want the broccoli to remain crisp-and it will continue to cook and steam slightly as it cools). Drain broccoli and shake out excess water. Place warm broccoli in a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Fold in raisins and nuts.

Toss broccoli in dressing occasionally prior to serving- as the broccoli cools as it will continue to soak up the dressing.
Serve warm or room temperature.


  1. That Salad looks so yummy!!!

    For Easter I thought it would be a special treat to make shrimp scampi.. I had all the ingredients (or so I thought) laid out and was about to cook when I realized I didn't have any shrimp... So I went to my next door neighbor and asked if I could borrow some... he is an excellent aquatic hobbyist with the most beautiful freshwater aquatic landscape, he said he only had some freshwater cherry shrimp, they were over breeding and I could take whatever I wanted...

    Freshwater cherry shrimp are about an inch long at most, and that's before cooking them!!!... I was going to kabob them, but I had to use toothpicks instead... needless to say, my guests all left the part hungry.. *sigh* do you think I'll ever learn to cook VIN DE PECHE? am I a lost cause???


  2. I was wondering about all those extra cherry shrimp! Well, maybe you should get him some sea monkeys as a thank-you for the shrimp. They'll add a little variety to his landscape (as long as nothing eats them). I'm sure he would really love it.
    I don't know, Patsy. What do you mean by cooking VIN DE PECHE?
    Do you know the song "A Boy Named Sue"?

  3. Dear VIN DE PECHE,

    I LOVE Johnny Cash!!!


  4. That's all you've got? Oh, well.
    Did you get to meet Johnny when you were in Folsom Prison?
    I ask because I didn't think they had any Johnny Cash where you came from- just Palestrina and George Strait.