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New-School Broccoli Salad

By Russell Selander Published

Blanched broccoli and creamy avocado dressing refresh this picnic-table classic.

Colorful, creamy, and charmingly retro, broccoli salad is one of my favorite dishes to tote to summertime gatherings. The vegetable’s grassy flavor and crunch pair seamlessly with chewy, sweet-tangy dried fruit and toasty nuts, adding up to a dish that is just as versatile as other classic picnic salads—but arguably more dynamic. Plus, it’s so easy to make: Chop up a couple heads of broccoli and you’re halfway there.

It’s also an easy template to customize, and I had two particular tweaks in mind for my version. First, I wanted to blanch the broccoli rather than use uncooked florets as most recipes do. Doing so would soften the vegetable’s raw edge, allow me to use—not discard—the tougher stems, and season it thoroughly. But a brief saltwater plunge cooked the florets and stems unevenly, the latter retaining a tough bite even after I peeled them. So I took a more strategic approach: I submerged the stems in the saucepan and laid the florets on top of them to steam, and then I shocked the lot. That way, everything cooked up crisp-tender at the same time.

Evenly Blanched Broccoli

  • Broccoli stems and florets cook at different rates, so we strategically layer them in the saucepan. The denser stems go on the bottom, where they are submerged in water, and the more delicate florets go on top so that they sit just above the waterline and steam gently.

My other revision would be to the mayonnaise-based dressing, which tends to be loaded with sugar. In fact, I wanted to take the dressing in an altogether lighter, brighter, more savory direction, so I decided to swap in avocado for the mayo, taking advantage of the fruit’s clean, mild flavor; richness; and wealth of emulsifying phospholipids.

Turning the avocado into dressing was as simple as buzzing it in the food processor with olive oil. The result, which happened to be vegan, was lush but light: thick enough to coat the broccoli, fruit, and nuts (I liked cranberries and almonds) without obscuring them. Then, instead of sweetening the dressing, I seasoned it with garlic and lemon, and I added sliced shallot and fresh tarragon to the salad.

Avocado replaces the mayo for a creamy, clean-tasting dressing that doesn’t overwhelm the broccoli.

Recipe Broccoli Salad with Avocado Dressing

Blanched broccoli and creamy avocado dressing refresh this picnic-table classic.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.