Shy, retiring wallflower of a salad this is not. Both in terms of texture and flavour this salad delivers enormous bang for your buck! I adore the sturdy bite and crunch of broccoli stalks, which take center stage here.
My loathing of food waste inspired this recipe; that, and my thrifty eye catching several broccoli stalks on the verge of being thrown out at work! This salad makes use of an un-loved and underused part of a nutritious goldmine of a vegetable.
The dressing here is absolutely enormous; it has many similar ingredients to a classic Caesar dressing, yet it is without the richness and creaminess imparted by the egg yolk.
Now this salad only really works if you’ve had broccoli the night before and stalks left over... If you have a whole broccoli then of course the flourettes and the stalk will work perfectly together, although perhaps cooked separately, as their cooking times will be slightly different.
The ingredients below serve four.
4 broccoli stalks
1 handful of sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons mini capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ small clove of garlic
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
small bunch of curly parsley
First, preheat the grill and toast the sunflower seeds for 3-5 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
It is possible to make this dressing with a stick blender, although I would advise making it by hand. A coarser texture gives a more complex and interesting flavour overall: rather than all the ingredients being blitzed together to unite as one new flavour, finely chopping the ingredients by hand creates a new united taste, and yet the wonderful, individual flavour of each ingredient is discernable within.
With that in mind, finely finely crush the garlic and anchovies (perhaps in a pestle and mortar), coarsely chop the capers, zest the lemon, and chop the parsley. Stir this together with the vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. With the inherent saltiness of capers and anchovies, there’s no need to season this dressing.
Chop the broccoli stalk into bits and bobs – this will never be the most elegant, delicate salad so there’s no need to be precise! The stalk is often very tough at the bottom, so cut away the exterior layer of skin.
Cook the stalks in rapidly boiling salted water for three to five minutes, leaving some texture in the middle.
Drain, and allow the steam to billow off; definitely do not dress the broccoli when still wet!
After ten minutes the broccoli will still be warm, but dry. Dress generously, season with salt and pepper, mix well, and scatter with toasted sunflower seeds. Fresh curls of Parmesan are a fabulous addition.