An ode to broccoli salad and its mighty crunch

Spicy Ginger Broccoli Salad

Say what you will about the policies of our 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush, but there’s one thing we all can agree on. 

The man didn’t care much for broccoli. 

‘“I do not like broccoli,’’ Bush said in March 1990, as first reported in U.S. News and World Report. “And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!’’ 

Well, no partisan subtext or hidden political meaning there. 

I, on the other hand, love broccoli. I enjoy it raw, blanched, steamed, stir-fried, roasted and baked with cheese. I even like it pickled. So there. 

For some time now, I have been particularly enamored of a raw broccoli salad created at a local gourmet deli. Although I have asked them to consider sharing the recipe with readers, they have never been forthcoming. So out of desperation and in the name of financial conservation, I decided to try to figure it out myself. 

Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of success. There’s something in this particular salad that I just can’t identify or duplicate. But, along the way I did come up with a very delicious alternative. 

This spicy salad is made with raw broccoli, a seriously crunchy ingredient, not for the dentally challenged among us. The stalks, the branches, the little florets, all pack a mighty crunch that may not be to everyone’s liking, but I find it delightful. When raw, broccoli's mild cabbagey notes sing right through this salad’s other powerful flavors. 

The dressing — mayonnaise, sriracha (a widely available chili paste from Thailand that, once you try, you’ll add to everything), ginger and lime juice — provides the full complement of hot, sour, salty — there’s no need for added salt, as the mayo and sriracha bring plenty along — and sweet — thanks to the ginger. 

My husband eats it by the bowlful, but if he didn’t, it would last a good long time in the fridge. 

Making the salad is relatively simple, but there is some chopping involved. No need for precision though. I like the broccoli chopped into smallish pieces, but I just whack apart the entire head. I don’t take the time to break in into florets first. And I prefer the pepper in little sticks, but you have my permission to chop it any way you’d like. 

And of course the cost of these ingredients pales in comparison to the price you’d pay for someone else to assemble them for you. 

Enjoy!

Spicy Ginger Broccoli Salad 

2 heads of broccoli, chopped (about 8 cups) 

1 large red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch sticks, about 2 cups 

2/3 cup mayonnaise 

1 tablespoon sriracha (or less if you prefer less heat) 

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger 

Juice of half a lime, about 2 teaspoons 

Black pepper to taste 

Chop the broccoli into bite-size pieces. No need to be fussy about this. Just trim and discard the bottoms of the stalks, slice the heads into slabs, slice the slabs into sticks, then chop the sticks into ½- to 1-inch chunks. Put the chopped broccoli into a large mixing bowl. 

Chop off the top and bottom of the pepper. Remove the core then slice the pepper down one side and lay it open flat. Remove the ribs. Slice the pepper into 1- to 1½-inch planks, then slice the planks crosswise into ¼- to 1/8-inch sticks. Add the peppers to the broccoli. 

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sriracha, ginger and lime juice, and mix well. Add to the broccoli and stir to coat all the pieces with the dressing. Season with a liberal amount of black pepper. 

Original recipe by me. Share comments and recipes at j.blanchette@theday.com. Follow Jill on Twitter: @2Petunia.

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