Who says healthy food can’t taste good, too? This broccoli salad is here to prove that wrong.
I know what usually comes to mind when we hear “broccoli salad.” Hardly healthy at all, the traditional salad features mayonnaise dressing, crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, and fresh broccoli. My sister (and guest writer for Pith and Rind!) makes a mean version.
But if you’re branching out, I highly recommend this updated version. No less filled with goodies, it’s lighter on the animal products. And since the broccoli is roasted, not raw, you don’t have to slather the veggie in dressing. A simple vinaigrette does the job.
Step 1: roast the broccoli
Water-roasting broccoli is one of the best-kept secrets. Simply wash your broccoli florets and put them straight onto the baking sheet without drying. Bake them in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes.
Not only does this method keep the broccoli crisp by preventing it from soaking in too much oil, but it also results in a charred surface and a “roasted” flavor. If I’m making broccoli in salad form, this is the method I use so I can be liberal with the dressing. No one loves an oil-drenched vegetable.
Step 2: making the vinaigrette
For this dressing, add a slightly zippier ratio of olive oil to vinegar: 4 tablespoons avocado oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Complete the dressing with 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 clove grated garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk well to emulsify.
Pro tip: keep red wine vinegar in your cabinet for posterity. It’s tangy but just sweet enough to bring out the flavor of a green vegetable like broccoli. And I love how it tastes with parmesan cheese.
Step 3: put it together and what have you got?
Once your broccoli has cooled to room temperature, throw it in a bowl and work on your fixings. Here’s where a little extra effort goes a long way.
Roast your walnuts then coarsely chop them: That’s right. Just throw them in a dry skillet over medium, and wait until you smell something wonderful, or until their outsides are ever so slightly charred.
Chop them and wait until they’re cool to throw them onto the salad.
Shave 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese:
You can use a block grater or a paring knife to scrape thin slices of cheese. I prefer this method because it produces a saltier, more intense bite than thinly grated cheese.
Add 1/2 cup of golden raisins to your salad.
Admittedly, I added WAY too many raisins on the first go-round–a whole cup! By the end of the salad, all the broccoli was gone, and I was eating trail-mix salad. So this time, I capped it at half a cup!
Finely chop half a red onion and add it to the salad. Toss and dress to taste.
I suggest adding half of the dressing and then get the lay of the land. You want a dressing that adheres nicely to the food without pooling at the bottom. Add an extra dash of kosher salt and/or pepper, and you’re ready to go!
In sum, I love this version of broccoli salad, even next to the classic summer picnic version. It’s edible proof that, sometimes, you can improve on a good thing! I hope you enjoy this update as much as I did.
Looking for a different salad to bring the flavor? Check out one of these:
- Fresh corn salad with tomatillos, tomatoes, and ancho chili dressing
- Squash blossom salad
- Orange, fennel, and black olive salad
- Watermelon salad with mint and watercress
- The kale salad, deconstructed
- Pesto couscous with roasted cherry tomatoes
- Crispy tofu quinoa salad
A healthier, veg-ier twist on a classic picnic salad, featuring red wine vinaigrette and roasted broccoli.
For the Dressing
- 4 tablespoons avocado oil, or another light oil*
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar**
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Salad
- 1 head broccoli
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly roasted and chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, flaked
For the dressing
- Whisk all ingredients together.
For the salad:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized florets and wash under water.
- Don’t dry the broccoli. Simply add it to a baking tray and put it in the oven for 15 minutes, or until it’s charred on the underside.
- When the broccoli is at room temperature, add it to a medium bowl with the other ingredients.
- Whisk the vinaigrette and pour half over the salad. Taste the salad. If you’d like more vinaigrette, then add it to your liking.
- Season with extra pepper and chill until ready to serve. Eat the same day.
*I’ve been using avocado oil since I became more conscious of cholesterol-moderating foods! I love a great tasting health boost, as you probably can tell. 😉 You can also use another light oil as a substitute.
**Champagne vinegar could be a great substitute here.
Keywords: vegetarian, broccoli salad, roasted vegetables, California, salads, healthy, vinaigrette, broccoli, vegetarian comfort food