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Cooks’ Exchange: Broccoli a fine foundation for delicious salads

Cooks' Exchange: Broccoli a fine foundation for delicious salads

Today’s column begins with a capital “B,” which has nothing to do with the seat of government or the beginning of a column, but instead has everything to do with broccoli, a favorite vegetable for longtime reader Sharon Ripp Hildebrandt, whose search seemed endless for a broccoli salad recipe that didn’t include mayonnaise.

A decision was made to continue her search using my own cookbook collection, hoping there were many available in a short period of time, which ended up taking three long days before finding enough to share with you today.

“Wisconsin Herb Cookbook,” compiled and published in 1996 by authors Suzanne Breckenridge and Marjorie Snyder, includes many recipes from private collections of authors never before appearing in print. Their long-running columns have appeared in Wisconsin Trails magazine … as well as becoming co-authors of “The Wisconsin County Gourmet,” published in 1988.

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Broccoli with Garlic Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1 lb. broccoli, broken into florets

3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped with the oil they were packed in

Cook broccoli in your favorite way. Fill a large skillet with about 1 inch of water and let it come to a boil. Add broccoli and turn so each floret turns bright green; reduce heat, cover, and cook 2-3 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

Heat sun-dried tomato oil pus olive oil in same skillet and saute garlic until soft, 1-2 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes, cut into slivers, and heat through. Pour over broccoli and toss gently. Sprinkle with fresh pepper and serve. Serves 4.

Captured in “Mom’s Updated Quick Meals Recipe Box” cookbook, compiled and published in 2006 by University of Wisconsin clinical nutritionist Donna Weihofen, is another exceptional recipe promising to make dinnertime even easier by putting this salad together ahead of time.

Broccoli, Roasted Red Peppers and Artichoke Salad

4 cups broccoli florets, blanched

1 large roasted red pepper, thinly sliced

14-ounce can of quartered artichoke hearts

½ cup fat-free Italian Parmesan salad dressing

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine broccoli, red pepper, and artichoke hearts. In a small jar, combine dressing ingredients. Shake to mix, pour over vegetables and toss to mix. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Note: To blanch the broccoli, plunge the florets into a large pan of boiling water for 30-45 seconds.

Drain and cool rapidly under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry.

This was the first vegetable pasta salad prepared and served when Diana Konkle opened Diana’s Deli in Sun Prairie. The ingredients were few and compliments many.

Garden Pasta

3 cups uncooked rotini (9 oz.)

½ cup broccoli flowerets

½ cup cauliflower flowerets

¼ cup black olives, chopped

1 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Rinse under cold water, drain. In medium size bowl, combine pasta and vegetables. Add dressing and stir to blend. Serves 8.

“The All Seasons Cookbook,” edited by Connie Colom and published in Mystic, Connecticut, includes a broccoli recipe ideal for picnics. This must be made a day ahead and mentions not adding broccoli until adding tomatoes.

Broccoli Tortellini Salad

7-ounce package cheese tortellini

1 cup fresh broccoli florets, blanched

½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

½ of a 7-ounce jar roasted peppers, cut into strips

6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, undrained

¼ cup sliced ripe olives

2½ teaspoons chopped fresh basil or ¼ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ cup prepared Italian dressing

5 or 6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again. In large bowl combine all ingredients except cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours to blend flavors. Just before serving, add cherry tomatoes; sprinkle with cheese.

Another broccoli salad from the same “All Season’s Cookbook” is described as being a mixture of crunchy, marinated vegetables great for a tailgate picnic and must be made ahead.

Fresh Fall Vegetable Salad

1 pound broccoli, separated into florets

1 small head cauliflower, separated into florets

2 medium carrots, scraped and thinly sliced

1 small purple onion, thinly sliced

½ cup sliced ripe olives

1 cup Italian dressing (commercial or favorite recipe)

Generous pinch each of thyme, oregano and basil crushed between fingers.

Cut florets into bite-size pieces, if necessary. Combine all ingredients in large bowl, or storage container. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Here is a “keeper” crunchy salad adding color and texture to any meal to be made and enjoyed throughout the year. Add the dressing at the last minute to keep the broccoli bright and green.

“Let’s Get Together,” a book featuring simple recipes for gathering with friends, was written by DeeDee Stovel and Pam Wakefield and published in Massachusetts in 2008.

Broccoli Cashew Salad

1 head broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup cashew pieces, lightly toasted

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Using a steamer basket, steam broccoli for about 5 minutes, or just until tender. Drain, plunge into ice water to cool, and drain again. Add to a large bowl. Core and seed the red and green peppers and cut into ½-inch cubes. Peel and coarsely shred the carrots and add to the bowl with the broccoli. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Pour ¹⁄³ cup of the dressing over the vegetables. Toss, add more dressing if desired, and refrigerate for one hour.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI 53708 or by email at [email protected]