I combined all things crunchy and colorful in this broccoli salad. My hope is that I might be able to convince a few more of you to eat broccoli, not because it's good for you, but because you genuinely like the way it is prepared. I (willingly) eat broccoli three, sometimes four times a week. In this case, tiny green florets, crisp apples, crunchy shallots, candied nuts and slivered red onions are tossed in a barely sweet, creamy almond vinaigrette. Add baked tofu or pan-fried tempeh and you can easily turn this side into a main course. It's a hearty and substantial with lots of play between sweet and savory, crunch and creamy.
You can certainly make the components ahead of time, but don't dress the salad until you are ready to serve it - preserving the various crunches.
Broccoli Crunch Recipe
The success of this salad hinges on the broccoli. Buy good-quality bright green broccoli with tight florets. Now that you have good broccoli, do your best not to overcook it - you don't want it turning to mush.
4 -5 cups tiny broccoli florets (and chopped stalks if you like)
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
2 small crisp apples, cut into bit-sized pieces (if you aren't going to use the apples immediately, let them sit in a bowl of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted or candied walnuts or almonds
1/3 cup pan-fried crunchy shallots*
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt as you would pasta water. Boil the broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge of - 10 or 15 seconds. Drain and immerse it in cold water (or let cold water run over it). At this point, I like to spin the broccoli in a salad spinner to get the water off, but a few good knocks against the sink in a strainer can do the trick pretty well. Set aside.
Make the dressing by sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash the clove and chop, smash and chop - turning it into a paste. In a small bowl whisk the salty garlic paste with the almond butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy. Taste, make any adjustments and set aside.
In a large bowl gently toss the broccoli, apples, red onion, most of the shallots and nuts with a generous drizzle of the almond dressing. Turn out onto a platter and finish with the rest of the shallots and chives if you like. Serve family style.
*Stir together the shallots, a splash of clarified butter (or olive oil) and big pinch of salt In a large skillet over medium heat. Stir every few minutes, you want the shallots to slowly brown over about fifteen minutes. Let them get dark, dark brown (but not burn), and if needed turn down the heat. Remove from skillet and onto a paper towel to cool in a single layer where they will crisp up a bit.