Food & Wine (June 2014)
Pound for pound, we probably eat more broccoli than any other vegetable.
Sure, we're indulging in the great summer produce that's (finally!) showing up -- lush greens, beans, squash. But year-round, broccoli is our go-to. It's tasty, it's packed with fiber and nutrients, and it's easy to prepare and pack for work lunches.
We typically make broccoli one of two ways. Either we'll roast it in the oven tossed with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and red pepper flakes. Or we'll steam it, either on the stovetop or in the microwave. We'll make a big batch at one time, giving us enough broccoli for a few meals.
So we're always on the lookout for good broccoli ideas, which is why we wanted to try this Charred Broccoli and Red Onion Salad.
As recipes go, this is about as simple as it gets. In fact, other than the tomatoes and ricotta salata, the ingredients and the prep instructions are completely contained in the name of the dish: Char some broccoli, char some red onion, toss them together as a salad.
Simplicity is a good thing in our book -- especially for summer cooking. But this salad fell a little short for us, Making things (slightly) more complicated would probably improve the dish a lot.
Mostly it's an issue of texture: Throwing whole slabs of broccoli on the grill gave the vegetable a tasty smoky char, but the inside was still raw and very crunchy.
On top of that, the recipe never instructs you to break apart the broccoli "steaks." That makes the broccoli hard to eat with the 1-inch tomatoes and the 1/2-inch onions.
Maybe the best fix here would be to cut the raw broccoli into florets and grill it in a grill basket. You'd still get a decent char, but the broccoli would cook a little more and become more tender. And it would be a better size to play nice with the tomatos and onions in the salad.
Don't get us wrong: We enjoyed this salad. But some slight tweaks could make it really great.
Total time: 45 mins
Note from Food & Wine: Chef Ashley Christensen cuts broccoli heads into thick lengthwise slices, then grills and serves them with sweet grilled red onion. For this recipe, it's super-important to use broccoli with large, very tight heads in order to cut them into steaks.
2 large, tight heads of broccoli (2 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick steaks (reserve any florets for another use)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 medium red onions, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Shaved ricotta salata, for serving
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the broccoli steaks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and let cool.
Meanwhile, brush the red onions with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and let cool, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces.
In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the vinegar and a generous pinch of salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the grilled onions; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the broccoli on plates or a platter and spoon the tomato-red onion salad on top. Garnish with shaved ricotta salata and serve right away.