Broccoli Slaw

I haven’t seen my lovely friend A in several months as she’s been Stateside sampling lobsters and fresh corn on the Maine coast, but thanks to the power of the Internet, she has managed to give me a truly fantastic gift in the shape of this recipe for broccoli slaw from Smitten Kitchen…

Fresh and simple, it re-invented the wheel somewhat for me in how I eat my favourite vegetable. I could eat broccoli with everything including breakfast, but I had never thought to try it raw until now. And it is revolutionary. It tastes fresher, less boarding house brassica in after taste and is addictively crunchy in texture. And of course, if you’re feeling lazy, it makes it even easier to get your 5 a day than getting the steamer out and playing the waiting game.

While I was immediately interested in this lovely sounding slaw, I also automatically started making plans to change the recipe. Deb suggests using her buttermilk dressing, but after my recent buttermilk disaster, I am steering well clear of the stuff until I can find a decent source. I was also perturbed by the amount of sugar and mayonnaise in it. If I’m going to eat raw veggies I want them to be super healthy (so that I can keep my fat intake for a nice cheese elsewhere). I also don’t like dried fruit in savoury dishes and find dried cranberries to be extremely expensive. And I didn’t have any flaked almonds…

So instead I made a dressing from live yoghurt with a big splash of cider vinegar and some salt and pepper. Creamy, yet tangy it goes beautifully with the broccoli and is low fat and easy while not creating any washing up as it can be mixed straight into the slaw. I then perked it up with some thinly sliced red onion, a handful of pumpkin seeds and in a flash of inspiration, some fresh pomegranate seeds. Super healthy and incredibly pretty!

And amazingly tasty! Those little jewels of pomegranate burst on the tongue with a explosion of sweet juicy deliciousness, the onion crunches with taste and the pumpkin seeds add extra taste filled texture to the mix of vegetables and the whole thing is just perfect!

I have made this six or seven times since getting the recipe just under a fortnight ago. I’ve eaten it on its own, with a steak, with a stew and with an avocado salad. I made it for the lunch at the most recent Invisible Food Walk and it went down a storm, even with the littlest walkers who loved the colours and textures. I just can’t get enough of this fresh feast and even though I will probably make myself ill by eating too much of it in the future, I can’t urge you enough to try this.

Make a big batch, knowing that it will keep well in the fridge and then amaze yourself by managing to eat it all in one veg-tastic sitting before having to make some more to satisfy the broccoli lust it will inspire!

Brassica Tacks

I love broccoli. I love this much-maligned brassica so much that I get withdrawal pangs if I go too long with it. I love it so much I may have entered into broccoli eating contests with a friend on occasion. So imagine the excitement I felt when I discovered the new world of cape broccoli at the farmers’ market on Sunday…

This excites me far more than the oh-so fashionable purple sprouting broccoli, which can have very woody stalks and a slightly fusty flavour. It looks much prettier to me even if it is basically a purple cauliflower. I was intrigued to know how it would taste and would the colour last on cooking?

I decided to try some of it slightly steamed as I would with the normal stuff, but to encorporate the rest in this delicious sounding dish of slow cooked broccoli with buttermilk and serve it with pasta for a brassica-tastic midweek dinner. I am well known for my tendency to under cook broccoli so I thought I would challenge myself with this different style of dish.

I went for half cape broccoli and half regular broccoli with this very easy to make dish and it looked fantastic in the pan. I added an anchovy to the recipe for a bit more oomph, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. This all required about 5 minutes preparation, before simply leaving it to gently simmer for around an hour.

Unfortunately, this made my entire flat smell like a cheap boarding house as the dreaded musty sulphurous smell of overcooked brassicas permeated everything while it simmered. I figured I could overlook this minor annoyance since the dish was bound to taste delicious. I decided to serve it with pasta and while my bucatini cooked, I took the broccoli off the heat and added the lemon zest and buttermilk, along with some grated parmesan before plating up.

The broccoli did not look at all appealing at this stage. It looked like suspiciously how I imagine ectoplasm might look if you are unlucky enough to have a poltergeist about the house. But I refused to judge this book by its cover and tucked right in…and was instantly disappointed.

This just tasted of watery overcooked broccoli with a slightly warming kick from the chili. Admittedly it would have been better with pasta shapes so that the pasta and the sauce mixed better, but this shouldn’t really have affected the taste. I just think the long slow cooking actually cooked the taste right out of this lovely vegetable.

I ate the lot because after waiting an hour for it to cook, I was starving and because I can’t bear to squander food. But I was thoroughly underwhelmed by this dish and feel that I rather wasted my poor cape broccoli on it. I will be sticking to my tried and tested 3 minutes steaming in the microwave with broccoli in the future and leaving longer cooking of brassicas back in the 50s where they deserve to stay!