After that weekend, we're probably all ready for a break. I could avoid turkey for months without a problem (my last four posts have all involved the bird in one form or another, and I think I might have overdone it). Either way, something as simple and crunchy and filling as a broccoli salad is certainly welcome at my table.
Although this is a bit of a Southern classic, for some reason I went with British chef Jamie Oliver on this one, since a mayonnaise-drenched preparation wasn't what I was after. Still, I couldn't turn down the bacon, which is a natural pairing with broccoli. Oliver takes the hot bacon fat and turns it into a creamy, bright dressing with white wine vinegar. Scattered chives give it all that subtle, sweet onion flavor. What I really liked was the way he cooked the broccoli: Blanched for just more than a minute, it yields its raw texture to a bright, just-barely crunchy state. For some reason, this elevates the dish from side dish to suitable dinner.
Broccoli Salad with Bacon, Chives, and Tomato
- 2 heads of broccoli, about 1 1/2 pounds
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into matchsticks
- 2 roma tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 bunch fresh chives (15 to 20), finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salty water to boil. In the meantime, trim the woody end from the broccoli heads and break it up into small florets. Slice them into 1/4-inch thick pieces so they cook quickly and evenly. 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.
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.
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.
Toss the broccoli with the tomatos, bacon, and dressing. Top with chives and serve.