There are many recipes for broccoli salad. It usually includes chopped red onion, raisins, sunflowers seeds, crumbled bacon and a mayonnaise dressing laced with sugar and vinegar. It is delicious. I even asked for the recipe after I ate it a few summers ago. But I haven’t made it yet. I find I get turned off of recipes when I know exactly what goes inside. Bacon and mayo are delicious, but I just don’t cook with them that often.
This is why I perked up when I saw a mayo- and bacon-less broccoli salad on 101 Cookbooks. There are many different crunchy aspects to the salad; tender-crisp broccoli, crisp apple pieces and toasted almonds. The magic ingredient was probably the crispy onion. They were crunchy and added a unique flavour. I cheated and used store-bought crispy onions that I found in Kensington Market a while back but I included the directions to pan-fry your own shallots, if you choose to do so. The dressing was a bit on the thick side for me, which was probably due to my almond butter. It spread out more than I thought once it dressed the salad. It certainly is not a mayo-dressing, but a decent alternative.
Almond Broccoli Crunch Salad
2-3 cups tiny broccoli florets (and chopped stalks if you like)
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
scant 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/8 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons hot water
1 small crisp apples, cut into bit-sized pieces
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced (omitted)
1/2 cup toasted or candied walnuts or almonds (I used toasted almonds)
1/4 cups pan-fried shallots (I substitutes store-bought crispy onions that I found in Kensington Market)
1. If pan-frying your own shallots, stir together the shallots, a splash of clarified butter (or olive oil) and big pinch of salt In a large skillet over medium heat. Stir every few minutes, you want the shallots to slowly brown over about fifteen minutes. Let them get dark, dark brown (but not burn), and if needed turn down the heat. Remove from skillet and onto a paper towel to cool in a single layer where they will crisp up a bit.
2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt as you would pasta water. Boil the broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge of – 10 or 15 seconds. Drain and let cold water run over it. Drain, pat dry and set aside.
3. Make the dressing by making garlic paste by first sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash the clove and chop, smash and chop – turning it into a paste. In a small bowl whisk the salty garlic paste with the almond butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy. Taste, make any adjustments and set aside.
4. In a large bowl gently toss the broccoli, apples, onion (if using), most of the shallots and nuts with a generous drizzle of the almond dressing. Turn out onto a platter and finish with the rest of the shallots.