Vegan Broccoli Salad
Okay, let me preface this by saying how much I hate normal broccoli salad. It’s superfluous in every possible way – it’s no one’s first choice and only ever part of a larger spread, so why bother, and really, that level of creaminess combined with raw broccoli is unpleasant at best. I also don’t love raw broccoli so there’s that.
That being said, broccoli is cool and tasty and healthy so I’ve brought this salad into the modern era. Roasted onions and broccoli florets, thinly sliced raw stems, lemon (preserved lemon if you have it), nuts, pomegranates, and raisins. The broccoli and onions are roasted with warming spices so the end result is vaguely Levantine, light but packed with flavour.
Top it all off with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or white wine vinegar and you’re set. I really like to use some of the brine from my preserved lemons for this salad, especially as I don’t always have fresh lemons. That’s particularly true now so use what you have.
Making the salad
It is so easy, and so flexible (see below for substitutions). While the broccoli florets roast, you quickly prep everything else – i.e. put it into a bowl – and it’s ready to go as soon as the broccoli is. Including chopping time it’s less than 20 minutes altogether.
Serve the salad immediately for a nice hot/cold mix, or leave it to come to room temperature before serving. It’s great either way. At room temperature, the vegetables have had a bit more time to take on the lemon flavour and acidity. Served immediately, it’s a bit more of a mixed bag of flavours and every bite is different.
Broccoli must stay, of course. If you want a different vegetable, this Ottolenghi cauliflower salad is vaguely similar but a bit fancier. Yellow onion or shallots can be used in place of red onion, and any seeds or nuts you like in place of hazelnuts.
Any dried fruit you like can take the place of raisins – dates and cranberries are my top picks. Pomegranate isn’t mandatory, I just had some in the fridge to use up, but it is a nice addition. If you don’t have preserved lemons use fresh as outlined in the recipe. Last, if you don’t have parsley, it can be left out (it’s better with) or you can use another herb like oregano or cilantro.
That’s it! It’s a great salad, soft, crunchy, sweet, savoury. We couldn’t stop eating it. If you have a head of broccoli hanging around, give it a try! I don’t have a pile of other broccoli recipes on the site because I usually just roast it, but here’s a great broccoli flatbread that can be turned into a kind of pizza.
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Vegan Broccoli Salad
- 1 large head broccoli florets only (reserve stem)
- 1 small red onion cut into wedges
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- Broccoli stem peeled and julienned
- 40 grams hazelnuts roughly chopped, or other seeds/nuts
- 60 grams raisins
- ¼ pomegranate seeds only
- ¼ lemon peel from [preserved lemon] or zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Handful of chopped parsley
- About 1 tablespoon of olive oil for topping
- Extra lemon brine from preserved lemons or fresh juice
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- Cut the broccoli florets into smaller pieces (this is purely to shorten cooking time). Add to a large baking sheet with the onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne.
- Mix the vegetables well to coat in the oil and spices, then roast for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and golden.
- While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the rest of the salad. Either julienne or roughly grate the broccoli stem and place it into a large bowl with the nuts, raisins, pomegranate, lemon, and parsley. Set aside.
- Once the roasted broccoli is finished, add it to the bowl with the other ingredients. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of preserved lemon brine or lemon juice and mix well.
- Serve immediately or wait and serve at room temperature. This salad keeps well for a couple of days refrigerated in a sealed container, but is best served warm.