The celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday translates to a long weekend, big time summer kickoff around here. Families will go up north to the cottages for the first time this year, barbecues in backyards are prevalent, hikes, fireworks, cold patio beers and other libations abound, commemorative mugs with pictures of the Queen adorn the gift shop windows in my town; happy feelings. The warmth, sun, singing birds and lovely breezes draw us all outdoors, ready to enjoy each other’s company and stay in that precious light, later and later into the evening.
This seasonal shift brings me to salads and other cooler preparations for food. I still love a piece of sticky, barbecued tofu or tempeh, a pizza cooked on a hot grill, a summery sauteed succotash, lightly charred veggies and the like, but ultimately I find myself craving salad-y things and cool, tossed together items more often. Enter my secret, hardly-ever-indulged-in love of broccoli salad. You know the one I’m talking about. It has sunflower seeds, raisins, cheddar, other add-ins and a good amount of mayonnaise. I used to work at a gourmet foods kind of place that made a version with cooked up cavena nuda (an oat-based rice sourced from the Canadian prairies). I had to literally fight myself from grabbing a bite every time I looked at it in the deliciously well-stocked to-go counter. I never felt exactly stellar after consuming it, but the combination of crisp broccoli, creamy dressing and crunchy add ins was pretty bang on to me. A wholesome, home spun version was long overdue in my life.
Another note on salad eating: the default mode of extra flesh-baring in the summertime has me gravitating towards raw foods for sure. A lot of cold weather butt-sitting has been, ahem, brought to my attention lately in some form or another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy happy with life, feel pretty good and still fit into my jean shorts from last summer just fine. But sometimes when a gal slips into a little light dress for the first time and notices the dramatically bright white glow emitting from her (somehow less muscular-seeming) calves, she can’t help but get hell bent on some overall health improvement. A little time spent in the sun (vitamin D woop!) and a few salads later, all’s gonna be fine I’m sure of it.
So I give you a big bowl of broccoli. Yes! With crunchy soaked/sprouted wild rice, toasted salty sunflower seeds (you could use raw if you want to maintain an overall raw preparation), the very traditional golden raisins (you bet), and chive blossoms. The dressing is the best part though. It’s super creamy with avocado, full of basil, healthy fats and citrus-y goodness. I could eat it straight up with a spoon, no problem. The sprouted rice (technically a grass; not a grain) provides some complex carbs, protein, B vitamins, folic acid, and very delicious crunch. It won’t have the same texture as cooked rice, but I think you’ll be fine with that once you enjoy it here. I actually wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the idea of eating the whole recipe for this salad in a day. It would certainly be a fantastic barbecue potluck contribution to sway the steak eaters over to the plant enthusiast side. It’s one of those “Ha! We actually DO eat cool and exciting stuff, suckers!” kind of dishes. Also feel free to add “And check out how toned and tan my calves are!” for good measure.
broccoli salad with sprouted wild rice and citrusy avocado & basil dressing
special equipment: a blender for the dressing
notes: I simply sprouted the rice by soaking it for a day or so, changing the water 3-4 times. The shot above (with the rice in the sieve) shows what stage it should be at. This recipe will make more than enough dressing for the salad–not exactly the worst problem in the world. Don’t have chive blossoms? Just use actual chives or finely minced shallots/red onion/green onion.
1 medium, ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 small jalapeno, seeds and veins removed (optional)
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
salt and pepper
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 bunch of broccoli, large woody stems removed
1/2 cup wild rice, soaked, sprouted and drained
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
salt and pepper
6-7 chive blossoms, broken up into smaller pieces/petals
Make the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the basil and oil in a blender. Blend on medium-high speed until a smooth and creamy mixture is achieved. You may have to stop the motor and push the avocado down a couple times. Add the basil leaves and oil to the blender pitcher. Put the lid on and slowly bring the speed up to medium-high. Once you have a creamy consistency similar to mayonnaise, you’re set. It should taste sweet, tangy and rich. Adjust seasoning to your liking and set aside.
Chop the broccoli into very small florets. They shouldn’t be bigger than the end of your thumb (see photo above). Place florets into a large bowl with the sprouted rice, raisins and sunflower seeds. Pour about 3/4 of the dressing over the broccoli mixture. Give the salad a good seasoning with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Place salad into your serving bowl of choice. Garnish with chive blossoms and a sprig of basil if you like.