Broccoli Bonanza

Broccoli is the soldier of vegetable world.  We can rely on it to perform equally well whether raw or cooked, hot or cold, or mixed with protein for a one-pot meal.

Here’s a broccoli dish that works in several of those categories. It is good as a room temperature or cold salad, or as a hot or cold side.

Broccoli Salad

In any case I prefer it barely cooked, let’s say al dente. For contrast include the tenderest stalks, sliced and steamed along with florets in the microwave, 3 minutes at most.  Use hot or if rinsed in cool water the broccoli will hold its color and not turn mushy if refrigerated.

The dressing can be whipped up while the broccoli is cooking.  Combine a small amount of Dijon with the olive oil and whisk in either unsweetened rice or white wine vinegar until thick.

Coat the broccoli lightly with the dressing and add roasted red pepper for flavor and color. If you are an anchovy fan a few chopped filets complement this combination  beautifully.

Five-Minute Broccoli Salad

Ingredients
1 lb broccoli, rinse, trim, cut into florets, ¼” thick stems
Dressing
1 clove garlic, mashed
pinch salt and pepper
½ tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp roasted red peppers strips
6 anchovy fillets, chop (optional)

Instructions
1. To make the dressing, combine garlic, salt and pepper and mustard in a bowl, whisk in the olive oil. Beat  in the vinegar to emulsify; it should be thick.
2. Cut the red pepper into strips; drizzle a spoonful of vinaigrette over the pepper and set aside.
3. Rinse the broccoli. Cut into florets and residual stems into ¼” thick slices.
4. Place in microwaveable bowl, cover and steam 3 minutes in microwave, until broccoli is barely cooked.
5. Enjoy hot or rinse in cool water; drain and light pat dry to remove excess water.
6. Toss broccoli with the red peppers and dressing. Serve at room temperature or chill until needed. Serve with topped with chopped anchovy if desired. Serves 4.

Make Ahead Salad? Consider crunchy cabbage slaw

Cabbage is a wonderful thing, but it took me a long time to reach that conclusion.  It’s a caterer’s best friend, as well as anyone into recreational dining.  It is refreshing, adaptable, and holds very well.  Here’s a slaw that moves beyond the dull standard mayonnaise based variety.

If making ahead, the salting process and a slightly wider shred work well in maintaining crispness.  If not an issue, omit the salting and use a regular cut, adding 1/2 teaspoon salt to the dressing.  Crunchy slaw works in lieu of generic lettuce for many uses:  in sandwiches and wraps, on burgers, fajitas and tacos or as a default salad with barbecue and picnic fixings.

cabbage slaw
Broccoli Slaw Variation

Short of time? There are plenty of pre-cut packaged slaws that can be substituted in lieu of the cabbage and carrot; the new broccoli variations are worth checking out.

Cabbage Slaw with Lime Dressing

1 medium head of cabbage, without core, slice into 1/4-1/2″x2″ lengths
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 small carrot, peel and shred
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
4 green onion, chop
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seed, dice (or a dash cayenne in dressing)
Lime Dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
Black pepper, few grinds
2 tablespoon olive oil, to taste
Garnish: 1 large tomato, seeded and diced, optional

Directions

  1. Remove the core and any thick portions, slice the cabbage into 1/4-1/2″ x 2″ shred, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt to distribute evenly and place in colander or sieve. Let drain 30 minutes or longer.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients and set aside.
  3. Squeeze out any cabbage surface moisture and place in large bowl. Add the carrot, cilantro, green onion and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss evenly to coat.  Adjust seasoning, it should have a bite to it.  Chill and toss again before servings.  Top with fresh tomato if desired and serve.  Serves 5 or more.

Curd’s the Word

We love our cheese curds in Oregon.  There’s something extremely entertaining about these little morsels that make everything taste better— including broccoli.  Simply stated, curds come from the early stages of simple cheese making when acid is introduced to milk, separating it into the watery whey and solid curd.Broccoli and curds (640x480)

The resulting squiggly curds are fairly mild, rustic, low on the creamy scale, and a cheese kids seem to love. Unless a complete cheese snob, what’s not to like about little cartoon-like bites of squeaky cheese?

Here’s a way to get your cheese and broccoli together effortlessly.  No sauce is required, just plenty of unadulterated cheesy goodness.  Keep in mind that all you want to do is get your broccoli near al dente and quickly melt the cheese with it.  Beyond that, the cheese solidifies even more and all of the melted creaminess is lost.

Cheese Curds and Broccoli

Ingredients
2 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic or zest of 1/2 lemon
1 pound broccoli, rinse, cut off woody stems and then into florets
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound cheese curds, cut up any large curds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray 2 quart baking dish lightly with oil.
  2. In large skillet over medium high heat, add butter and the garlic or lemon zest; when aromatic add the broccoli.  When hot, add about 1/4 cup water or enough to create steam, cover for 2-3 minutes, until tender-crisp.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and place a layer of broccoli in baking dish. Layer with half of the curds, add remaining broccoli and top with the rest of the curds.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serves 4