Broccoli Crunch

Broccoli Crunch Recipe

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.

Broccoli Salad Recipe

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*
chives (optional)

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.

Serves 4.

*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.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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  • Hm. I am thinking that the people with nut allergies/limited ability to procure almond butter could use silken tofu creamed with a hand blender and a little extra acid, lemon juice or a mild vinegar. That would be sort of like a mayo (bringing us a little closer to my family's church potlucks). It would be important to cream it so it is not lumpy, I have not found electric beaters or food processors to do the trick. I am also very spoiled and can buy just about anything within a mile of my house, so I don't know if silken tofu would be more difficult to find than almond butter.

  • I'm in need of a good salad recipe for a dinner tonight and this fits the bill. I have everything on your list except the optional chives. I use almond butter in so many things, but never thought of using it in salad dressing. Wow, what a great idea. Sounds delightful! Melissa

  • This looks so good! I love broccoli! I just have to try this! Beautiful photos!

  • "there are people who don't like broccoli?! Shame on them!" It is pointless to berate someone for a matter in biological taste and subjective opinion. I hate broccoli, in all its forms. The flavor of it, whether raw, steamed, boiled to death, tossed in a light stir-fry, or very creatively teamed with apples, makes me almost want to be sick. I have not had any success with liking it, as I have had with other foods I grew up disliking, and I don't really even want to. However, I think this recipe is quite creative, and I hope everyone who likes broccoli has a great time making and eating it. Diversity in tastes is one of the fun things about being human.

  • There are people who don't like broccoli? Isn't broccoli the only vegetable many kids will eat?? :) Thanks for the salad recipe!

  • This sound yummy! And my healthier than the traditional broccoli salad that I have made (read: tons of mayo!). I can't wait to try it. For those looking for Almond butter, I know they sell it at Trader Joes.

  • I love broccoli, and may try this recipe for my bring-to-work lunched. Unfortunately, my boyfriend broccoli not for the taste, but because of the texture of the little bits in the florets. Raw, steamed, boiled, stir-fried... he just won't eat the florets, and this means I eat much less broccoli than I used to. Any thoughts on recipes that use broccoli stalks or have broccoli pureed in them?

  • As Jennifer stated, this will make a great alternative to the tired broccoli-slaw-potluck-salad-that-never-dies! I would probably add a bit of red pepper to the homemade candied nuts - I love the kick of pepper with my greens. Does anyone know if sunflower seeds/pepitas take well to candying??

  • Heidi, I'm a long-time reader of 101cookbooks, though this is my first comment: there are people who don't like broccoli?! Shame on them! And this looks absolutely delicious; I'm looking forward to trying it later this week. All the best, -Josh

  • This looks fabulous, I will be making this tonight. Like Jenny my little ones will love this recipe too!

  • Now sadly I am not a friend of the little tree, but this looks delish! My two bundles of joy (aged 9 and 6) and HUGE broccoli fans and would love this. I may make this for Thanksgiving :) ~Jenny ps....Heidi, I made your sweet potato mousse with the delish oil last year, it was scrumptious!!!!

  • Now sadly I am not a friend of the little tree, but this looks delish! My two bundles of joy (aged 9 and 6) and HUGE broccoli fans and would love this. I may make this for Thanksgiving :) ~Jenny ps....Heidi, I made your sweet potato mousse with the delish oil last year, it was scrumptious!!!!

  • i'm going to the grocery store right, now!

  • Any suggestions for a substitution for the almond butter? Not sure that I can find it at my local big box grocery store.

  • Heidi- this looks absolutely fabulous. The crisp apples, crunch from the broccoli, shallots, and candied nuts oooh yum.

  • I doubt it was your original objective, but thank you for providing a natural and healthier alternative to the popular potluck staple. I love broccoli salad, but often find those versions too sweet. I look forward to trying this recipe.

  • Lovely presentation of one of my favorite salads. Another addition, I like, is a handful of raisins or currants. They add a soft,chewy counterpoint to the crisp apple and crunchy onion and a touch of sweetness. Nice dressing combo!

  • Where would one fine almond butter? I cook broccoli (steamed) as a staple veggie, since my extremely picky 6 year old eats it willingly. I'm always looking for ways to prepare it (for the rest of the family who WILL eat things "all mixed up") so we won't get too bored!

  • This is getting made tonight. Broccoli season is taking shape, and the harvest at my local farmer's market (Cambridge, ma) is better each week. I also really like the idea of adding Tempeh and just eating this as a main course. Thank you!

  • I am so making this tonight. I bet it would be equally yummy with Brussel sprouts, which I hate. I'm going to try it both ways.

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