I am in love with this recipe. Seriously, it is so surprisingly good, it even got my “but I don’t LIKE broccoli” insisting 4-yr-old to utter words I never expected to hear: “more broccoli please!”
So here’s the gist: the broccoli is raw, but tossing it with the hot, vinegar-y dressing is enough to turn it a bright green while retaining all of its wonderful crunch. The dried fruit adds sweetness which is balanced by the savory cheese. And the garlic just adds that extra layer that makes it so flavorful, you can’t help going in for more!
The hardest part here is cutting the broccoli into tiny little pieces, but the rest of the salad comes together really quickly, so I think it’s well worth the effort. This would be a great dish for a pot luck or other party, although I would also be perfectly happy just having it for lunch any day. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did – please let me know how it turns out for you!
The Best Broccoli Salad
adapted from Ben and Birdy
2 pounds broccoli
½ cup olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup grated romano cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Cut the broccoli into very small pieces (roughly 1/2-3/4 inch; this helps the broccoli to get well-coated by the dressing). I do this by cutting the broccoli as close to the crowns as possible, and continuing to do that until you have tiny but distinct florets. Chop the tender parts of the stems into small pieces as well. For the tough stem, cut off the outer skin, then chop the tender insides into cubes. Don’t skip that part, those inner stem pieces are really delicious! Place chopped broccoli in a medium bowl and set aside.
Finely chop the garlic, and add it with the oil to a very small pot or pan (I love my butter warmer for this!). Gently simmer the garlic in the oil until it is JUST starting to brown at the edges of the smallest pieces. Add the salt and vinegar, and stir for another minute. The vinegar will sizzle at this point…don’t get your nose too close because that hot vinegar is strong!
Pour the hot dressing over the broccoli and mix well. Stir in the cheese and cranberries, taste, and adjust seasoning or proportions if needed. You can serve right away, but it is better after an hour at room temperature, or stick in the fridge for a few hours or over night and then bring to room temperature before serving.
Do ahead: This is one of those great dishes that tastes better the next day, so no need to make it at the last minute!
Makes 4 side dish servings