It’s that serendipitous season when summer and fall overlap for a few weeks and both broccoli and tomatoes can be harvested. This warm broccoli salad recipe comes from my friend Mollie Ahlstrand, of the Montecito favorite, Trattoria Mollie. The use of warm broccoli stems makes for a great, fresh vegetable dish that totally hits the spot these days as we transition into fall. It can work as a lunch on its own, or as a hearty side dish that really fills you up. It’s almost like you’re eating pasta, no joke.
My broccoli and tomatoes are prospering, but the leaves of my Thai basil plant have seen better days. So, instead of the leaves, I’ve been using the flowers for seasoning and garnish. The flavor is similar, and they add a beautiful purple color to the dish.
Warm Broccoli Stem Salad
Adapted from Mollie Ahlstrand
8 broccoli stems – about 6-8 inches in length
10 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons best quality olive oil, and some for finishing
1 pinch of red chili flakes
Parmigiano Reggiano shavings
Freshly ground pepper
Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise, and place them in a bowl with a pinch of kosher salt. Toss to incorporate and set aside.
Put a medium-sized pot of water on the stove and bring to boil. While you wait for the water to boil, peel the broccoli stems using a vegetable peeler to remove their tough exterior. Discard the end piece of the broccoli stem (it is often woody and tough unless the broccoli is freshly picked from the garden).
Slice the stems into coin-shaped pieces, 1 centimeter thick. When the water is boiling, add a good healthy pinch of salt to the pot. Taste the water to see if it tastes good and salty, and if it doesn’t have a salty taste, add more salt.
Next, drop the sliced broccoli stems into the water and cook for approximately 8 minutes. When the broccoli pieces are tender, drain them in a colander and immediately place in a clean bowl. Add your tomatoes and juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. Follow with olive oil, sea salt, and red pepper along with a few turns of your pepper mill. Toss to coat all of the ingredients, then plate.
Add about 4 shavings of Parmigianino to each plated portion, and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Serve and enjoy!