Switching gears from ice cream to broccoli is a bit jolting, I know, but bare with me because this salad is delish. Back in my vegetarian days I used to order a version of this with my family at Valentino’s restaurant in New Jersey. We would go almost every Sunday night, and I always looked forward to this light appetizer before digging into a large plate of pasta. It’s completely simplistic, allowing the bright green vegetable to shine.
I’ve created this dish at home before, but it always seemed to be missing something. What was the restaurant’s secret to cooking the broccoli just enough so a slight crunch remains?
The answer: Blanching.
It’s basically a veggie spa day, giving the raw produce a quick dunk in the boiling hot tub before tossing it into a cold swimming pool of water. The bubbling heat softens it just enough while the transfer into an icy temperature halts the cooking process to achieve that satisfying, al dente bite.
4 heads of fresh broccoli
1/4 cup chopped red onion
About 8 Campari tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper to taste
Fill a large pot with water, about 2/3 of the way, and add 1 tablespoon of salt.
Bring to a boil.
While water is boiling, wash broccoli.
Chop off stems, putting them aside for future soup broths etc., and cut broccoli into florets.
Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.
Place broccoli in boiled water for about one minute to a minute and a half.
Using a slotted spoon, quickly remove florets and immediately place them in ice water for 30 seconds.
Strain well in a colander.
Transfer blanched broccoli to your serving bowl.Slice tomatoes in quarters and add them to your broccoli.
Toss in chopped red onion.
Whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over salad, using a little at a time. You want it to be lightly dressed, not saturated, so feel free to serve any extra on the side.
Eat and enjoy this healthy start to your meal!