Broccoli slaw was not the first thing that called to me from the smitten kitchen cookbook, the absolutely stunning manifesto from Deb Perelman, author of the culinary blog of the same name. There are just sooooooo many recipes to try from that book, I am a little overwhelmed… I mean, Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema… or Fingerlings Vinaigrette with Sieved Eggs and Pickled Celery… or Heart-Stuffed Shells in Lemon Ricotta Béchamel… or Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Concord Grape Coulis… You see my point, right? Please tell me you do. Please tell me I am not the only one fantasizing about being locked in a kitchen with nothing but this book, and chefs knife and the bounty of luscious yet accessible ingredients Deb highlights within its pages. Right?! I am not the only one?!?!?
Phew. Ok, good. Glad at least a few of you came with me on that.
But I was pulled in by Deb’s story, the little intro worthy of its own page on the SK site, about her obsession with broccoli when she was preggers with her first and only child, Jacob. The best part was after she had detailed how she came to have this recipe in the first place (inspired by her sister-in-law). How, the first time she made it, she stood in her tiny East-Village kitchen and devoured the whole salad, standing up, in one go. To quote Deb, Apparently, pregnant women need their iron.
Soooooo, I am not pregnant, but this salad is pretty damn good, irregardless of whether you have a bun in the oven. I also love that it’s a year-around salad, as broccoli is pretty easy to find in farmers markets and certainly in grocery stores all months of the year. By this time of year, in New York, I would be going absolutely stir-crazy for some raw vegetables and would basically subsist on recipes like this for the rest of winter, trying desperately to replenish vitamins and minerals missed out on from months without the sun. It went perfectly with the spice-rubbed ribs I had a craving for and yes, I managed to get in a few bites standing over the bowl in my kitchen before Cindy and Bob greedily swooped in to share in the crunch. Enjoy!!
I adapted this slightly – I added these really lovely pale orange carrots I found at the market, thinly sliced, which added even more crunch and a subtle sweetness. I also kicked up vinegar, as I like a lot of acid in my salads, but balanced that with more fat, aka the yogurt. Then, after I had devoured about one-third of the salad standing, as Deb details in the book, standing over the bowl in the kitchen (although most definitely un-pregnant!!), I added bacon. Because I am me. And bacon is bacon. And never shall we be apart. Also, if you can, make it 3-4 hours or up to a day in advance, storing in the fridge, as the flavors only get better with age. Deb’s advice is, Serve immediately, or keep covered in the fridge for 2 to 3 days; really, though, it’s never lasted that long around here.
Adapted slightly from Deb Perelman’s the smitten kitchen cookbook. Makes about eight cups of slaw, to serve several people, or as Deb says, one-two preggers ones…
2 heads of broccoli (about two pounds total)
3-4 small, thinly sliced orange or yellow carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon (optional)
Trim broccoli and cut it into large chunks. From here, you can either feed it through your food processor’s slicing blade, use a mandoline to cut it into thin slices, or simply had chop it into smaller pieces. I used the stem and the flowerets, but if you have a broccoli stem aversion you can just use the tops.
Toss the sliced broccoli with the almonds and cranberries in a large bowl. Meanwhile, whisk buttermilk through pepper in a smaller one. Add onions and let soak for 10 minutes. Pour the dressing over the broccoli (if you’ve skipped the stems, you might not want it all; I otherwise found this to be the perfect amount), add bacon if using and toss it well. Season again with salt and pepper. Good luck trying to keep it for more than 20 minutes.