Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vegan Broccoli Salad with Dijon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Vegan broccoli salad with dijon balsamic vinaigrette
This zesty, healthy broccoli salad doesn't have mayonnaise or dairy products and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

For carnivores or anyone else out there who may be wary of recipes labeled "vegan," "vegetarian" or "healthy," I have good news: There's plenty of satisfying flavor in this salad, courtesy of the savory Dijon mustard, zesty garlic and earthy balsamic vinegar in the dressing. The olive oil and mustard also provide more richness of body to the mouthfeel, making up for the lack of mayonnaise or dairy typically used in broccoli salads. And because it's lighter than a mayo-based salad, my broccoli salad is a healthy accompaniment to bratwurst (as shown in photo below) and other grilled sausages or hearty meats.

An additional benefit of my Vegan Broccoli Salad with Dijon-Balsamic Vinaigrette is that it's extra-safe for picnics, cookouts and other outdoor dining in hot weather. Unlike highly perishable mayo or dairy-based salads, this one is more heat tolerant -- however, we still do recommend keeping it in a cooler or on ice when enjoying outdoors as a good safety precaution.

Finally, because my broccoli salad is made with frozen broccoli that has been thawed, rather than with crunchy raw broccoli, you can enjoy it as a sandwich condiment much like giardiniera or other chunky-tender vegetable relishes, as a filling in wraps and pitas, and even as a burger topper.

1 lb bag of frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 carrot, peeled & finely chopped or shredded
1 small cucumber, seeded & finely chopped (peeling is optional)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Optional: Very thinly sliced sweet onion (just a little), finely chopped sweet or hot peppers

Mustard-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 Tbs Dijon mustard (to taste)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (to taste)
1 1/2 tsp dried basil OR 1 Tbs finely chopped fresh basil
Salt & pepper to taste: I use 1 tsp Kosher salt & 1/2 tsp freshly ground mixed peppercorns

Broccoli salad with grilled bratwurst & corn
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a lidded jar -- I use a mason jar, either 1/2 pint or 1 pint size (the recipe makes approx. 1 cup of vinaigrette), close lid tightly and shake vigorously to thoroughly combine and emulsify. Taste for balance and adjust seasonings as desired -- if you started with just 2 Tbs of the mustard and want a more tangy flavor, add up to 1 Tbs more of the Dijon; likewise you can add more oil, vinegar or seasonings to suit your taste.

Place all vegetables in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over vegetables and gently stir to combine, making sure all vegetables are coated with dressing. You can serve right away, but the flavor improves if you cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (stir before serving).

Thrifty note: Because I prefer not to waste anything edible, I save any leftover "juices" from the bowl after the salad is served. Simply pour into another small jar for later use as a marinade or salad dressing, adding a little more EVOO as desired. Make sure to refrigerate and use within a day or two.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  If you wish to add a little protein and crunch to this salad, simply add some toasted sunflower seeds. And if you are not vegetarian or vegan, you can always crumble in a little cooked bacon, add some chopped ham, top with chopped hard-boiled eggs, or sprinkle with crumbled feta or shredded parmesan cheese.

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