Broccoli and sweetened coconut shreds? Let’s just say I was as much curious as I was dubious about this recipe. My curiosity won out in the end and discovered I liked this easy and flavorful side dish.
Broccoli florets are blanched in boiling salted water for a few minutes until crisp-tender. The florets are removed from the pot and shocked in a ice water bath. This stops the cooking process and preserves the bright green color. Drain the broccoli and dry well with paper towels. If the broccoli is too wet it will water down the dressing.
Aromatics, garlic, ginger and a pinch of spicy red pepper flakes are sautéed in a neutral oil until fragrant. Toss in the broccoli to coat and season with salt and pepper. Tamari and mirin are added to the pan and reduced to make a easy sauce. Tamari is a soy sauce that is made without wheat and has a milder and richer taste compared to regular soy sauce. Low sodium soy sauce could also be used in this recipe. Mirin, like sake, is a rice wine but with a higher sugar and lower alcohol content. The sweet flavor of mirin is a nice contrast to a saltier sauce like soy or tamari.
Reduce the liquid by half, then remove the broccoli to a serving platter. The sauce left behind in the pan is poured over the broccoli and the coconut shreds are sprinkled on top. I found the coconut added another dimension of flavor and was balanced out nicely by the sweet and salty sauce.
Asian Broccoli with Coconut
1 lb bite sized broccoli florets
1 T canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
Dash of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T tamari soy sauce
1 T mirin
1 T sweetened coconut flakes
Bring water to a boil in a 6-quart pot over high heat. Add florets and bring back to a boil. Cook until just tender 2-3 minutes
Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath and let sit until cool, 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli and dry well on paper towels.
Heat oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes until fragrant, 1 minute. Gently toss in the broccoli to coat in the oil. Season with ¾ teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
Add the soy and mirin. Gently toss broccoli until liquid is reduced by half and broccoli is warmed through, 2-3 minutes. Remove broccoli to a medium serving platter. Pour soy over broccoli. Sprinkle shredded coconut over top.
The vegetable garden, now that summer is fast approaching, is about creating recipes for fruit and vegetables that are harvested at the same time. That was the inspiration for this spinach, snow pea, strawberry, and radish salad.
It was time to make one last spinach salad before the plants go to seed. I snipped the smallest leaves off the bolting plants before pulling them out. Joe will plant spinach again in the fall when the cooler temperatures return.
I pick about a quart of snow peas each day. Their season is short and the warm temperatures of last week were less than ideal for them. This week promises to be coolerand as usual they will be with us until the end of June.
Since they grow quickly, Joe does consecutive plantings of radishes so they aren’t all ready to harvest at once. A new crop emerges in about 3 weeks. They are another vegetable that prefers cool weather, summer heat renders them woody and hot. I picked small radishes, thinning out a row, allowing the ones left behind a few more days to mature.
Our strawberry patch is in it’s third season now and is doing better than ever. I spent some time cleaning out the weeds this past weekend that seem to take over if given the opportunity. Fresh strawberries are delicious. We even get a second crop at the end of summer.
A strawberry vinaigrette is the perfect complement to this salad. For the dressing I combined garlic, Dijon mustard, strawberry balsamic vinegar, a touch of honey and extra-virgin olive oil.
When making of salad be sure to use a bowl that gives you plenty of room to combine the ingredients. Start by tossing the spinach lightly with dressing to coat and then add some strawberries, peas and radishes and toss again. I leave the rest of them to top the salad. That way you can be certain that the last person served doesn’t get all the heavier ingredients that sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Spinach, Strawberry, Snow Pea and Radish Salad
For the vinaigrette
1 small clove garlic, minced
3 T balsamic vinegar (strawberry works nicely here)
½-1 t honey
1 t Dijon mustard
½ c extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad
6 c baby spinach
1 c strawberries, hulled, halved and sliced
1 c snow peas, strings removed
3-4 medium radishes, sliced thin
¼ c toasted sunflower seeds
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, and garlic. Add the oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the snow peas to a small pot of boiling water, count to ten, remove from heat and drain well in a colander. Pat dry and let cool.
Place the spinach in a large bowl and toss with some of the vinaigrette and taste. Add about half of the other ingredients, toss again, adding more of the dressing if necessary. Top individual salads with the remaining ingredients. Season each portion to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for a later use.
We always leave room for a large row of broccoli plants in the garden. But somehow this year, Joe forgot to buy broccoli seeds. We remedied that by purchasing “starts”, small broccoli plants from the garden center at the Home Depot. They are very healthy plants. They took well to transplanting and we’ve encountered no cabbage worm problem this year. But something wasn’t right. Normally, broccoli plants have form one large head in the center. After the center head is harvested, it produces additional side growth for a few more weeks. This year the plants produced no center head but a reasonable amount of side growth.
I did a little research and there is a good possibility that the plants were subject to “buttoning” before we bought them. They could have been exposed to cold temperatures (35-50°F) for several days. Other possible stressors include insufficient water, a lack of nitrogen, excessive salt in the soil, pests or disease. I guess the moral of the story is to plant as much as you can from seed, that way you can be certain your plants have been nurtured properly. That said, we still have some broccoli and I created this healthy salad from some of those side shoots plus other ingredients in my kitchen, butternut squash, red pepper, dried cherries and slivered almonds.
Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 375°F oven. Toss them occasionally on the baking sheet to ensure even browning on all sides. Squash cubes shrink, the four cups you start with will yield about 2 1/2 cups of finished product. Even though the broccoli I used was picked that day, I prefer to blanch it for thirty seconds to brighten the color and bring out it’s flavor. After you drain it in a colander, plunge the broccoli into an ice bath. This will stop the hot broccoli cooking and prevent it from turning limp and watery. After it has cooled down, place the florets on a clean kitchen towel to dry.
You could just add plain nuts to the recipe, but toasting them really brings out the flavor. Add the nuts to a skillet large enough to stir or toss them in, depending how brave you are. Cooking over medium high heat, keep the nuts moving at all times to ensure even toasting and no burnt spots. Toasting brings out some of their oil and makes the kitchen smell great! Any nut will work, walnuts, pecans even sunflower seeds.
I had several types of dried fruit in the kitchen and decided that dried cherries would add a tangy sweet element to the dish. I made a vinaigrette with Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic from The Tubby Olive. It has a pleasant acidity with a bright crisp lemon flavor. I combined it with a few tablespoons of their Roasted Almond Oil and finished it with some extra virgin olive oil. Toss the broccoli florets, squash cubes and pepper strips with some of the dressing. Add the cherries and almonds and toss again, adding dressing if necessary. Veggies exude their own liquid, so be judicious in adding the vinaigrette. Refrigerate the salad for several hours to bring out the flavors. Taste before serving, adding any additional dressing, salt and pepper. It’s a colorful, healthy and very flavorful salad.
Broccoli and Butternut Squash Salad
4 c broccoli florets
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes, about 4 cups
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c red pepper strips, 2″ x ½” from one small pepper
½c slivered almonds
½c dried cherries
¼c Sicilian Lemon balsamic vinegar
1 small clove garlic, chopped
Pinch of dried thyme
2 T Roasted almond oil
¼c extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, toss butternut squash cubes with 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 16-20 minutes, tossing occasionally to be certain squash gets browned on all sides. Let cool to room temperature.
Fill a large pot with water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Put a colander large enough to accommodate the broccoli in the sink.
Have an ice bath (bowl with water and ice at the ready. Plunge the broccoli in the boiling water and count to 30. Immediately drain the broccoli in the colander then transfer it to the ice bath to stop the cooking.
Drain the broccoli when it has cooled a bit and place broccoli florets on a clean dishcloth to dry them off a bit.
Toast almonds in a medium dry skillet over medium high heat. Keep them constantly moving to ensure even coloring. They will exude some of their oil and they smell great. Remove from the pan and cool.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon balsamic, garlic, thyme and oils. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the butternut squash, broccoli and pepper strips in a large bowl and toss with some of the dressing. Add the dried cherries and almonds and toss again, add a little more dressing if needed. Chill before serving.