Greater Than The Sum of Their Parts

One of the coolest parts of cooking for me is the alchemy that sometimes occurs right under my very nose. Bitter kale, sauteed with garlic and onions and beans and a dash of balsamic vinegar, is vacuumed up by my green-hating kids. Coconut milk and cocoa transform into a heavenly and decadant ice cream. And broccoli makes a terrific summer salad.

Broccoli Alchemy

I knew about the trick of roasting cruciferous veggies tossed in olive oil to make them sweet and nutty and mellow, but there’s no major heat catalyst for this salad… just a quick dunk in boiling water to brighten and slightly soften the tough stuff, that’s all. Here’s how to work the magic!

Broccoli Salad

Put a few quarts of water on the stove to boil.

Remove the splintery, woody exoskeleton of two small or one large head of broccoli, then chop into bite-sized pieces. When the water comes to a boil, dump all the broccoli bits in and give a quick stir. Wait about 20-30 seconds, until the broccoli is BRIGHT green (but not too long, or you’ll have khaki-colored broccoli and we all know that stuff tastes nasty). Drain and rinse with plenty of cool water to stop the heat from blanching your bits any further.

Whisk together:
2 T. white vinegar (cider vinegar will do in a pinch)
1 cup real mayonnaise
1-2 T. sugar (to taste)
A few shakes of salt and a couple good grinds of pepper

Add:
Cooked and cooled broccoli
1/2 of a red onion, chopped finely
A nice hunk of cheddar cheese, grated (maybe 8 oz. or so?)
A big handful of dried cranberries

If you don’t have any vegetarian kids in the house, which I do, you can fry up a couple pieces of bacon and crumble into the salad (or throw in a handful of those Costco bacon bits).

This dish improves significantly if you can leave it alone for a few hours so all the ingredients can get to know each other. While I cannot guarantee that your in-house vegetable hater will gobble this down, there is a non-zero chance they will love it. And if they don’t eat it, then there’s more for you!

Which one of your favorite recipes seems to produce something greater than the sum of its parts? I’d love to hear about it!

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