Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Broccoli Crunch

I cannot get enough of 101 Cookbook's recipes lately! Everything she's posting looks amazing.

The ingredient list and instructions are Heidi's:

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.


I made the salad smaller than this. Probably 3 cups of broccoli, 1/4 red onion and one apple. The rest of the things I made original size, but it all still worked out really delicious, just less volume. I also added one huge chicken breast that I chunked up because we had it for dinner.

A warning: This is not the recipe for a weary cook. There is a lot going on at once. You have to pan-fry the shallots, candy the nuts, cook the chicken if you decide to add it and cut up all of those veggies and blanch the broccoli. I was running wild all over the kitchen with my hands in three things at once, dirtying tons of pans, utensils and bowls.

The end result is AMAZING, though! I am now in love with these crunchy shallots. I want to put them on every dish I make in the future. There were SO many layers to this salad. Broccoli, tart apples, nutty sweetness, caramelized onion, raw onion bursts and tender chicken. All of these were married together by a hearty almond butter dressing that brought some warmth and smoothness to a lot of the crunchy items, but still had that pop of lemon juice to make it interesting.

I'd recommend it as a side dish (minus the chicken) for a dinner or even to bring to a potluck. Otherwise, add some meat (or tofu) and have it as the main course like we did last night!

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