Top | The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
(recipe, Deb Perelman)
My husband's cousin makes a fantastic broccoli salad. I can never remember exactly what's in it, but I have a vague recollection of uncooked broccoli, creamy dressing, and dried cranberries. I pretty much eat the whole thing whenever she brings it over for a holiday meal. On a table piled with crêpes and caviar, potato pastries, mushroom salads, pickles, olives, garlicky roasted red peppers, smoked fish, black bread — and did I mention the caviar? — you can imagine why the broccoli doesn't get the love it deserves. But I never ignore it. In fact, now that I think about it, she probably makes it just for me. I married well. When I tried to re-create it a couple of years ago, I cut the broccoli into matchsticks and thin slices. I made a ranch-ish dressing with buttermilk and apple-cider vinegar. I toasted almonds. I chopped cranberries. I soaked onions in the dressing. And then I stood in the kitchen and ate nearly the entire bowl, the entire 2 pounds of broccoli salad. Sure, I was five months pregnant at the time. Apparently, pregnant women need their iron. I made fun of my broccoli habit on my website. And then, more than two years later, I decided to include the salad in this book, and when I went to retest it, the same thing happened. I inhaled it. I couldn't have been less pregnant at the time (though the result of the first pregnancy was sitting on the floor chomping adorably on a raw floret), which led me to the conclusion that this salad might just be good.
Culinate editor's note: If you're not a fan of raw broccoli, try cutting the fresh broccoli into small florets and chunks, then steaming it very lightly, just until bright green but still crisp and crunchy. Toss with the rest of the salad ingredients and serve warm, or chill and serve cold.