Thursday, January 14, 2010


We interrupt Cookiefest to bring you a salad break—and I’m sure we could all use one, right? This recipe from Jamie Oliver (via Serious Eats) is a real winner, jazzing up barely-blanched broccoli (cooked just enough to lose that raw bitterness, but not enough to sacrifice crunch) with bacon and an addictive bacony-vinegary-mustardy-garlicky dressing that seeps into every little crevice of the broccoli. Tomatoes add nice color and acidity and the chives a subtle oniony flavor, but the real star is the broccoli. Even if you never envisioned yourself downing the green stuff by the bowlful, this might change your ways. Both A and I loved it, and although I served it on the side of some salmon, in the summer it could make a fine main dish on its own.

This most exciting thing about making this recipe was that I got to use my brand-new cast-iron skillet for frying the bacon, woohoo! There’s not too much else to note; I followed all directions as written, except that I decreased the olive oil from 6 tablespoons to 4, both because that seemed like a lot of fat for a dressing that already included bacon grease and because I could see that we weren’t going to need all that dressing anyway (I don’t like my salad drowning in dressing, so I didn’t use the whole bowl). Besides, I prefer an acidic dressing (I make my usual one with about half lemon juice and half oil). I also subbed in cherry tomatoes, because I like them so much in salads and they’re better this time of year than Romas, When summer comes, a mix of red and yellow cherry tomatoes will be so pretty against the green of the broccoli.

2 heads of broccoli, about 1½ pounds
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into matchsticks
2 roma tomatoes, halved, seeded, and finely chopped (or about a cup of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered)
1 bunch fresh chives (15 to 20), finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4–6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, trim the woody ends from the broccoli and trim the heads up into small florets of about equal size. When the water comes to a boil, blanch the broccoli for 1–2 minutes, until they are starting to get tender but still have bite in the middle. Drain in a colander and spread out on a kitchen towel to steam dry, about 15 minutes.

2. In the meantime, cook the bacon in a large skillet with a splash of olive oil over medium-low heat until the fat renders into the pan and the bacon is crisp but still slightly chewy.

3. Drain the fat collected in the bacon pan into a bowl and add the garlic, dijon, and vinegar. Whisk well to combine into an emulsion, then add the olive oil slowly in a stream, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and taste also for acidity, adding more vinegar or oil if needed.

4. Toss the broccoli with the tomatoes, bacon, chives, and dressing.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: OK if eaten within a few days

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