Derek loves broccoli, but I have surprisingly few easy broccoli recipes. My two standbys are sesame broccoli and pan-fried broccoli with garlic, but I’d love a nice easy recipe for broccoli salad. I still remember a delicious salad made from grated broccoli stems from the buffet at Whole Foods in Pittsburgh years ago. This recipe, from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, looked like just what I was looking for.
The recipe is part of a two-part menu with (a quite odd recipe for) pad thai. I skipped the pad thai and instead served the broccoli with dal and rice. The combination seems a little odd, since dal is Indian and this salad is more east asian, but they actually went well together. The ginger tied the two dishes together, and the broccoli added some texture and acid to the dal.
The recipe is very simple. First you make a vinaigrette using olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, ginger, soy sauce, honey, and salt and pepper. Then you blanch the broccoli for 2 minutes, drain well, and add the broccoli to the vinaigrette.
I was working on the dal so Derek made the broccoli salad. The first step of the recipe is “whisk together the oil…. and salt and pepper to taste.” But there’s a very unfortunate line break after salt. So Derek figured he was supposed to add all the salt listed in the ingredient list. The recipe calls for 1 Tbs. salt, so Derek (conservatively) added 1/2 Tbs. (since Berley’s recipes are always too salty for us.) But the tablespoon of salt was supposed to be added to the boiling water for blanching the broccoli, not to the vinaigrette. Whoops! The dish was super salty. When mixed in with the dal and rice it was just barely edible. It was hard to get a sense of how the recipe would taste without all that salt, so I decided to make it again.
The second time I purposefully went low on the salt. I also tried cutting back on the oil a bit, but the dish was way too acidic, and I ended up adding in all the oil. (As written it calls for 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. rice vinegar, and 1 Tbs. lemon juice, which is a 1:1 oil to acid ratio.) Even with all the olive oil though, the recipe seemed too acidic to me. Derek said that adding more salt helped, but it was salty enough for me so I didn’t want to add any more. It seemed like there was just too much dressing in general for the broccoli, with a big pool of liquid leftover after we had eaten all the broccoli. Maybe I should have drained the broccoli better? Berley says to drain and blot with a towel, and I just drained it. Or maybe I didn’t use enough broccoli? The recipe calls for 1 large head, which is what I had, but maybe Berley’s idea of a large had of broccoli is different than mine? If I make this recipe again I think I will cut down on the vinaigrette amounts, maybe just use 3/4 of most ingredients, and 2/3 of the vinegar and lemon juice.
Derek: B- (although he didn’t complain when I gave him the leftovers for breakfast the next day)