During another day of trying to up my veg intake I remembered a starter dish I had in Dockland in Cork. It was a broccoli Caesar salad with toasted hazelnuts and it was delicious. So when I had a pack of tenderstem broccoli, I decided to be healthy and give it a go. And then I kept chopping and changing the recipe, any excuse to make it again to be honest, and this is what I came up with.
I’m not claiming this Charred Broccoli Caesar Salad is healthy, I mean there is mayonnaise, bacon and a lot of cheese. But it is unbelievably tasty. So much so that when I said I was making it for myself I got a raised eyebrow at the broccoli part of it, but one taste and he was converted.
It’s not really a Caesar salad, probably more broccoli with Caesar dressing but we won’t split hairs. I have an old recipe here for what might be considered a more “authentic” Caesar salad – I really hate that word. This is an easier dressing to make and as it doesn’t use raw eggs, it is safe to be eaten by all. I have made this several times for lunch in the last few weeks but you can bulk it up for a larger meal with egg, croutons or grilled chicken.
Useful tips & links:
- To be honest, when I make this I usually just add things as I go, taste it along the way and adjust as needed. I measured what I do for the purposes of this recipe but really, keep tasting and adding to suit your own tastes.
- I used pancetta as the meat in this dish but you use any form of smoked ham or bacon.
- This recipe is just as good meat free without the bacon. However due to the Parmesan and Worcestershire sauce it is not suitable for vegetarians.
- The recipe for the dressing will make far more than you will need here. It keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
- Charring the lemon brings out it’s juice and gives it a more complex flavour. It is really delicious and if you like you can char it first before adding it to the dressing.
- This recipe is for cooking on a griddle pan but it is even nicer cooked on the barbecue.
- I use tenderstem broccoli but you can use regular broccoli. Have a look at a range of recipes from Ottolenghi using broccoli here.
- For another broccoli salad see my very popular Broccoli and Feta Salad.
- Have a look at Nessa’s delicious Nutty Carrot and Broccoli Salad too.
Charred Broccoli Caesar Salad
Serves 2 as a light meal, more as a side
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- A lemon
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- 125ml of mayonnaise
- 25g of freshly grated parmesan, plus extra to garnish
- Salt and pepper
- 225g of tenderstem broccoli
- 50g of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
- A handful of bread crumbs
- Mix together the crushed garlic with the juice of half of the lemon, the Worcestershire Sauce and Dijon mustard. Add the mayonnaise and grated Parmesan and mix well together. Taste the dressing for seasoning and add some black pepper. It is unlikely that you need salt because of the Parmesan cheese and keep in mind you will add more cheese and the salty bacon if you are using it.
- Fry the streaky bacon or pancetta in a dry pan until crispy. Remove and drain on kitchen paper, keeping the fat in the pan.
- Meanwhile heat a griddle pan or frying pan and brush with a little oil. Grill or fry the broccoli until it is slightly charred but still has some bite and season with a little salt and pepper. Grill the other half of the lemon too, cut side down until it is nicely charred.
- While the broccoli is cooking toast the breadcrumbs in the bacon fat until they are toasted and golden brown.
- Plate the broccoli and drizzle a little of the dressing on top. Add some crispy bacon, more shavings of Parmesan and the crunchy breadcrumbs.
- Squeeze a little of the charred lemon on top, add more black pepper and serve.