There seems to have been a recent glut of broccoli in California. Our local market has literally had tons of it, all shapes and varieties, for cheap. Consequently, we have been eating it a lot.
Looking for a little something outside the steamed broccoli realm, I thought about the ubiquitous Broccoli Crunch Salad. It really is everywhere. It sits on salad bars in every corner of North America. You can buy a kit to make it in your local big box store.
There is nothing really wrong with it. It is, usually, pretty tasty. A creamy dressing with some sweetness and some tang coat raw broccoli florets (I really don’t like that word), tossed with some sort of nut, raisins or dried cranberries adding some extra sweetness, and usually there is some salty bacon in there. It ticks all the boxes of taste and texture to qualify as a salad. I’ll even admit to scoffing quite a lot of it more than once or twice.
The thing is is that when I eat salad, I want to feel a little virtuous; a little bit like I am doing my body a favour. The creamy dressing and bacon while tasty, sometimes measure up a little heavy.
The raw broccoli is really delicious but I am going to admit that I think it is a little bit like hard work. I know it sounds like I want all the benefits without the effort but my jaw is almost sore after eating it sometimes. I knew that steaming the broccoli would wind up in a big soggy mistake unless it was treated to nothing but the shortest of steam baths. Roasting the broccoli, like I do cauliflower, seemed like a good and flavour intensifying idea though. You can still preserve some of the crunch as well.
To be honest, I have been roasting all of our brassicas, even the cauliflower for cauliflower and cheese. Everyone has been eating it up.
I lightened up the dressing for the salad by using a slightly sweet vinaigrette with a little bit of nuttiness from some toasted sesame oil. There will be twice as much vinaigrette as you need but it is a handy thing to have in your fridge, just store it in the jar you shake it in. The raisins and onions soak in the vinaigrette for as long as you have time to let them. The raisins plump and the onions mellow so the longer they soak the plumper and mellower your salad will be.
I skipped the bacon, to much guffawing, but you could easily toss some in if you need it.
This makes quite a lot but two adults and two children polished all but a tiny bit off in one meal.
Roasted Broccoli Salad
8 cups broccoli cut into small flowerlike pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450º.
Toss the broccoli pieces with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, until they are spot browned. Remove from oven and cool.
Put the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a jar that will hold at least 250ml (1 cup). Put the lid on the jar and shake until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Check the bottom of the jar and make sure that all the honey is mixed in and isn’t stuck to the bottom.
In a medium bowl, use whatever bowl you want to serve this in, soak the raisins and onions in about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.
Just before serving, toss the roasted and cooled broccoli and the toasted almonds in the vinaigrette.