Around this time each year, I start to crave spring and spend time dreaming of all things green: green leaves, green trees, green grass, green vegetables. I love the surprise pack of fresh fruits and vegetables that magically shows up at my door in my CSA each week, but since I live in Ontario, it’s a bit of a stretch to expect foods that are still in season or locally grown (unless, of course, you like root vegetables. I love them, but there are limits). I feel fortunate to live in a country where you can still buy lots of green veggies all year round, even if they aren’t grown in my own back yard.
One of my favorite vegetables that works in any season is broccoli. It’s great cooked, roasted, in soup, raw or as a vehicle for your favorite dip. And its brilliant emerald hue reminds me that spring is on the way when I’m feeling a bit of winter overload.
This broccoli salad is my newfangled take on a classic that was all the rage a few years ago, making an appearance at virtually every pot luck or buffet table I visited for a while. Although the original version is naturally gluten-free, it’s off the menu for me now since it contains raisins (not part of my current diet) and mostly processed ingredients in the dressing. My updated version omits the raisins, but feel free to add them back if you like. And as a bonus, it’s ready in about 10 minutes!
I must tell you, I fell madly in love with the garlicky, crunchy topping that subbed for bread-based croutons here. I often toss toasted nuts into my salads, but in this case, rather than add extra fat from walnut halves, I opted to replace them with a mix of garlic-infused corn flakes and sesame seeds, toasted just until lightly browned. The result was a bright, fresh salad that offered a wonderful medley of flavors and textures: sweet, slightly tangy and creamy dressing; crisp, juicy broccoli and carrot; and perfectly crunchy, garlicky sprinkles as the counterpoint to it all. I just adored it. (If you’re not a fan of garlic, feel free to leave it out; your topping will still add a delightful crunch and flavor).
This broccoli salad makes a lovely first course or side dish, but can also serve as a light lunch or dinner if you add another protein source. I tossed in about 1/2 cup chickpeas and had it for lunch. It was a perfect meal as I sat by the window, gazing at the snow as it fell. . . and daydreaming of the abundance of green still to come.
Creamy Broccoli Salad with Garlic Crunch Topping
For the Garlic Crunch Topping:
1-1/2 cups sugar-free corn flakes
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
For the Dressing:
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
6-10 drops plain stevia liquid, to your taste
1/3-1/2 cup filtered water, as needed
For the salad:
1 medium head broccoli (about 2 stalks), cut into bite-sized florets (about 4 cups florets)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 green onions, sliced
Prepare the Topping: Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment, or spray with non-stick spray.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and garlic. In a medium bowl, toss the corn flakes with the sesame seeds. Pour the oil/garlic mixture over the dry ingredients and toss with a spoon until the cereal is evenly coated. Spread the mixture on the cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and cereal is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the topping bakes, prepare the dressing: Place the cashews in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water; allow to soak for 5 minutes, then drain. In a blender, mix the drained cashews with remaining ingredients until perfectly smooth (start with 1/2 cup water and add more if required for desired texture). Scrape down sides a few times if necessary so everything is well blended. Set aside.
Make the salad: Toss the broccoli, carrot and onion in a large bowl with the dressing. Divide among serving plates and sprinkle liberally with garlic crunch topping. Enjoy immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Note: leftover salad and topping should be stored separately. Refrigerate any dressed salad in a covered container up to 3 days; store the topping in a container at room temperature and add it right before consuming (it will lose its crunch if stored with the salad).
Suitable for: ACD All stages Stage 3 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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