Broccoli is a deeply-divisive vegetable. George Bush Sr hated even the sight of it, banning it from being served even from Air Force One. “And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!” he is reputed to have grumbled. On the other hand is Barack Obama, who absolutely loves the stuff.
Broccoli may cleave the Presidents of the USA, but it is rather a delicious vegetable, and endlessly versatile – it easily takes to South East Asian flavours as well as European and Indian ones. You can barbecue it, roast it with cheese, layer it into a macaroni bake or even toss it into Thai curries. But although most people view broccoli as a sort of warming vegetable to be eaten in winters or monsoons, it is also excellent in salads, which makes it the perfect vegetable for our simmering, sultry summers. Broccoli and cheese are a match made in salad heaven, but it also works superbly in a garlic, chilli and soy sauce salad, or tumbled with pasta or even cooked with sausage or salami for a more hearty salad. Below, I’ve given you some of my absolute favourite broccoli salads, quick and easy to put together, with the minimum of fuss. Perfect for a summer’s day when you don’t want to spend hours broiling over the stove.
Broccoli Pasta Salad
You can use leftover pasta for this, or make fresh. Any small pasta like farfalle (bow tie shaped) or penne should do. I love adding fruit to my salads; in this case, the sweetness of the pear acts as a subtle foil to the earthy funkiness of broccoli.
Pasta – 150g
Broccoli – 100g
Pear – 1, chopped into little pieces
Cucumber – 1 small, diced
Red pepper – 1, chopped finely
Chilli flakes – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Balsamic vinegar – 2 tsp
Orange juice – 1 tbsp
Pistachios to serve
Salt to taste
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (around seven to ten minutes). Cut the broccoli into small florets, and toss it into the pot, after removing the pasta. Then dry the hot broccoli with a napkin, in order to prevent it from getting mushy. Add it with the pasta to the pepper, the pear and the cucumber.
Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, salt, and chilli together vigorously, then pour into salad. Sprinkle with pistachios before serving for a bit of crunch.
South East Asian Broccoli Salad
Healthy diet: broccoli salad recipe
Ginger paste – 2 tsp
Garlic paste – 2 tsp
Sesame oil – 4 tbsp
Soy sauce – 2 tsbp
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Broccoli – 200g
Corn – 50 g
Baby corn – 50g
Carrot – 1, chopped into matchsticks
Peanuts – 1/2 cup, roasted until crisp
Salt to taste
Stir fry the broccoli in 1 tbsp sesame oil and set aside. Vigorously mix the sesame oil, soy sauce and chilli powder together in a bowl. Smother the vegetables in it, then mix in the ginger, garlic and chilli powder. Add salt to taste, and serve with peanuts (and a wedge of lime if you like).
Hot Broccoli, Choriz and Prawn Salad
Healthy diet: Broccoli salad recipes
Broccoli – 250g
Goa sausage – (choriz) 100g
Prawns – 200 g
Olive oil to fry
Garlic cloves – 8, chopped
Green peas – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to serve
Honey – 2 tsp
Green chilli – 1, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil – 1/4 cup
Cube the sausage and fry in some olive oil in a saucepan, for about six minutes. Then add in the garlic, frying until pale gold in colour. Toss in the broccoli, stirring occasionally. Add the green peas and prawns once the broccoli is nearly tender, around five or six minutes.
Toss the honey, extra virgin olive oil and chilli in a bowl, and pour over the contents of the saucepan. Season and serve with coriander sprinkled on top.
Broccoli, Ricotta And Rice Salad
This broccoli salad is a great way to dispose off old, leftover rice-you can use any type of rice you like.
Broccoli – 250g
Kashmiri chilli – 1, finely chopped
Ricotta – 100g
Leftover cooked rice – 100g, at room temperature
Baby spinach leaves – 200g
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
- Bring a pan of water to boil, and add salt. Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into little florets, and as soon as the water starts bubbling over, throw in the broccoli. The broccoli should take about five to six minutes to finish cooking. Take it all out and drain.
- Crumble the ricotta cheese into little pieces, and mix into the broccoli; the heat will help the ricotta to melt. Then toss in everything else, mix well, and serve.
Get The Most From Your Broccoli
- When looking to buy broccoli, look for bright green-coloured ones, with their heads compacted together, rather than loose florets. Avoid broccoli that has yellow flowers.
- It’s best not to overcook your broccoli, if you want to preserve its nutrition. A maximum of seven to ten minutes is ideal. This way, it won’t get soggy, and you’ll have the added advantage of leaving the broccoli crisp and bright green. You can even eat broccoli raw.
- If you want to keep your broccoli for a long time, try freezing it, rather than refrigerating it. Otherwise, keep it in the vegetable crisper in a bag with holes in it, so that it can breathe, and ideally, use it within three days.
- Cut your broccoli like you would cauliflower-the easiest way is by cutting off the canopy of florets, then cutting the more fibrous stalk. The very end of it is far too fibrous to eat though. Better to cut it off and discard it.
Put on the chef’s hat and experiment with the humble veggie.