And sure, mayonnaise is frequently used in broccoli salads to create a creamy dressing. A sheer curtain instead of blackout curtains would allow the broccoli to shine more strongly in this situation.
Pick your mix-ins.
A startlingly impressive, exhilaratingly simple broccoli salad may be made by tossing chopped fresh broccoli with a zingy vinaigrette and letting it sit for a few hours. But why not add any extra parts and pieces you may have sitting around? There are countless alternatives.
Try crumbled hard cheese (like Parmesan, gouda, or sharp cheddar), chopped alliums (like red onion, scallion, or shallot), anything briny-salty (like smashed olives or capers), chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, dill, or mint), or hot peppers. You can also try small or chopped dried fruit (like dried cranberries, golden raisins, dates, apricots, or mango) (thinly sliced or chopped, pickled or fresh). Although I prefer fresh broccoli by itself, you might add other crisp vegetables (like fennel or carrot) if you’d like.
As with the dressing, your salad ingredients should depend on your kitchen ingredients; if you don’t need to go to the grocery store, don’t go to the grocery store. How about:
- Pickled hot peppers + cheddar cheese + pecans
- Dried mango + cilantro + scallion
- Parmesan + capers + sunflower seeds
Heads up: If you like your nuts crunchy as can be, hold back on adding them until right before you eat. If you don’t mind them softening a bit, stir them in with the rest of the mix-ins.
Toss everything together and taste.
Combine the dressing, mix-ins, and broccoli florets in a big bowl. Take a bite of it. Added acid? More salt? Added spice? Modify as necessary. Remember: The finest broccoli salad is not a recent invention. It has to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour to absorb all the flavor you just created, just like so many of our favorite salads for the summer. And things continue to improve. When the broccoli is doing all the work in the fridge and you get to do anything you want, the overall duration is longer than the prep time. A quick circuit of the block? Tea please? Taking your cat for a nap?
Pat yourself on the back.
Broccoli salad is content to remain in the refrigerator for days when stored in an airtight container. Try to finish it off in three. You may start with one head of broccoli instead and create a smaller amount if eating so much broccoli salad sounds intimidating. Try two, at least for the first time, and see how much more peaceful mornings are when you aren’t scrambling to prepare lunch to bring to work. Even better than coleslaw, in my opinion, this is a delicious make-ahead side dish to bring to a picnic, party, or Barbecue.
The broccoli salad recipe I’ll be eating all week:
Dukkah, a nutty Egyptian spice blend, inspired this crispy vinaigrette. Team it up with broccoli, preserved lemon, and your fresh chile of choice, and you get a salad to look forward to. To turn it into a fuller meal, serve with some whole-milk Greek yogurt and/or bread.
Peel the stalks of 2 heads of broccoli, then finely chop both the stalks and the florets. Transfer to a large bowl, along with a 1 bunch parsley or dill, chopped, a handful of chopped dried apricots or dates, and however much sliced jalapeño or serrano you can handle. To a spice grinder, mortar, or cutting board, add a big spoonful (about 4 tsp.) toasted sesame seeds and a small spoonful (2 tsp.) each of toasted cumin seeds and toasted coriander seeds; crush or chop until crumbly (not powder). Add the spices to the broccoli. In a jar, combine ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice, ½ preserved lemon, seeded and minced, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Shake until combined. Dress the salad, stick it in the fridge, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. Before digging in, sprinkle with toasted, chopped hazelnuts.