Saturday, June 15, 2013

Running My Buns Off: Broccoli Salad


Whether you're a marathoner or an "I carried Costco bulk items from the car to the house, that counts as a workout" kind of person, chances are no matter how happy you are with your chosen exercise regimen, there are days when you feel the need to reset your body with a healthy meal.  This is especially true for bakers, professional or home enthusiast alike.  We play with butter, flour and sugar on a daily basis.  We sample the finished product and we dip into the raw batter.  We sample and dip some more.

I hate to say this but there comes a time in every baker's life when we crave a vegetable that isn't wrapped in puff pastry.  Saturday is my usual day of reckoning, when a week of dipping and sampling weighs heavily on my heart.  Literally.  Saturday also happens to be the traditional day of "long runs" for those in training for a marathon (or half marathon).  It's lovely to cut all that carbo loading with a life affirming vitamin rich, lean protein laced meal and it makes you a little lighter on your feet.

Here's my favorite late spring offering that's a riff off of a broccoli salad my friend and fellow baker Michele Gregroire Joyce made for a baker's gathering.  Her salad contained real bacon, raisins (or Craisins, I don't remember anymore) and a dressing that had luscious hints of real mayo.  I doctored it as best I could to keep all the fantastic flavors but cut down on some of the illicit stuff.  (After further research, I see that Paula Deen has a similar broccoli salad to what Michele made;  it's a southern staple that my southern family never broke out for me.  Now you can see why it is so good and why I had to doctor it a skosh).





BROCCOLI SALAD

INGREDIENTS

for the salad

2 large heads of broccoli (preferably organic)


If you grow your own broccoli as I do, even better!

1/2 a red onion, minced

1 medium sweet potato or Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into small cubes


2 chicken breasts, skins off

2 cups of low sodium chicken broth (I use Pacific brand organic/free range broth)

6 pieces of prosciutto (or turkey bacon)

for the dressing
(this makes enough to dress this salad and extra to save in a jar for future "dressings")

1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced



PROCEDURE

for the salad

Preheat your oven to 375ºF.

•Chop the florets from the broccoli and place in a large salad bowl.  I save the stalks for juicing or soup.

•Pour the chicken broth into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and transfer to the salad bowl with the broccoli florets.  Keep the broth in the saucepan.
Potatoes, cubed.  I prefer sweet potatoes for their superior health benefits but if you've only got a regular spud on hand, it's still a lovely addition to this salad.

•Place the chicken breasts into the broth, making sure the broth covers both breasts.  Continue to simmer.  Gently poach until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken breast reads 165ºF.  Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool enough to handle.  When cool enough, cut into small pieces, a little smaller than dime sized pieces.  Transfer to the salad bowl.

•Once the oven is preheated, place the prosciutto onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes, turning the sheet pan after 7 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Break the prosciutto into small pieces.

•Add the onion and prosciutto pieces to the salad bowl and gently toss to distribute the ingredients.

for the dressing

•In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients but for the olive oil.  Whisk to combine.  Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil.  Continue whisking until the dressing emulsifies and thickens.

•Pour a little less than half the dressing over the broccoli mixture, or to taste.  Toss gently to evenly coat the ingredients.  Can be made a day ahead and kept covered in the fridge.