Years ago I made a stupendous discovery (practically every cooking discovery was to me then, as is still now, a revelation). Broccoli stems, which I usually cut away and discarded when preparing broccoli florets, were perfectly delicious raw.
Broccoli florets I can’t stand raw, neither the texture nor the taste (why do people insist on putting raw broccoli florets in salads? shudder). But the stems? All you have to do is cut away the tough, outer peel. Slice up the peeled stems and they are wonderfully cool and crunchy. Like carrots or celery, great for dipping.
Broccoli stems taste a bit like cabbage, unsurprising given that they are both of the brassica family of vegetables. So naturally, the shredded stems work well in a slaw, especially tossed with grated cabbage and carrots. Someone at the grocery head office must have figured this out too because these days it’s pretty easy to find pre-grated “broccoli slaw” mixes in the bagged lettuce aisle. Though it’s easy enough to grate your own, just like carrots, peel and grate.
The following recipe scales up easily, if you are feeding a crowd. The dressing is wonderfully tangy and slightly sweet with the dried cranberries, balsamic, honey, orange juice, and orange zest. Perfect for serving alongside pulled pork or with seafood. Enjoy!
Dressing (makes about 1 cup)
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp dried sweetened cranberries, plumped up in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, then drained
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 Tbsp orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, more to taste
- 6 Tbsp vegetable oil (or canola, peanut, or rice bran oil)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 4 cups peeled and grated broccoli stalks (from about 6 stalks of broccoli, or you may be able to buy already grated, packaged)*
- 2 cups grated carrots (from 4 to 6 carrots)
- 2 cups shredded cabbage (Napa cabbage, green, or red cabbage)
- 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
- 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Kosher salt
*If using freshly broccoli stalks, cut them away from the broccoli crowns. Peel the tough outer layer with a vegetable peeler. Either use the grater blade of a food processor or the large holes of a box grater to grate the broccoli stalks.
1 Make the dressing. Put the balsamic and red wine vinegars, plumped dried cranberries, mustard, honey, garlic, orange juice, orange zest, and salt into a blender or a mini food processor and pulse until puréed smooth. Slowly add the vegetable oil, while pulsing or blending, to form a good emulsion. Then add the mayonnaise and pulse until blended.
2 Place grated broccoli stalks, carrots, cabbage, the onions, dried cranberries, orange zest, and Kosher salt into a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine, until the dressing is evenly distributed.
You can make several hours ahead of time before serving.