We’re in clean-out-the-fridge mode as we prepare to leave on a two-week trip to the Republic of Georgia this weekend. I’m pretty excited about Georgia–especially the food. From what I’ve read about and cooked in terms of Georgian food in Paula Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, the cuisine is very similar to Turkish cuisine: heavy on the vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and pulses. So I’m already dreaming about roasted eggplant smothered with walnut sauce, and white bean salad full of fresh herbs. I hope my dreams and the reality match up 🙂
In the meantime, I had a large head of broccoli ready to use up and not a ton else in my fridge, so I came up with this salad. I’m really happy with the taste–the salty and sharp flavor of the olives and Parmesan really make this delicious, and the fine florets really soak up all the dressing. I was going to add in some cherry tomatoes that I had around, but I kind of feel that their texture would interfere with the straightforward crunch this has as-is. Nevertheless, tell me if you improvise and add other things and like it.
Use a sharp knife to cut the broccoli into small pieces, taking care to really dice it up–large chunks of broccoli won’t be nearly as good or coated with the dressing. Also, my mom taught me way back when that in order to pit an olive, you simply squish it with the flat side of a chef’s knife. The pit is then easily removed from the olive That’s not only a time-saving tip, but a money-saving tip as well, as pitted olives are more expensive, and often not as fine quality as whole ones. Also, it’s important to use real Parmesan here, not the fake stuff. Also, grate it on the coarse side of your grater rather than the finer one so that you can really taste it in the completed salad. Finally, I used rice vinegar because it was all that was left around as we pack up our apartment, and funny enough, I think I prefer it here. It’s not too acidic, which allows you to add enough vinegar to the dressing to coat the broccoli well without the dressing becoming too acrid. That said, I’ve tried it with balsamic, which is good, and I know that red wine vinegar would work well too.
This is definitely going in my standard rotation. Hope you enjoy!
Broccoli Olive Salad with Parmesan
- 1 large head of broccoli, diced
- 12 or so Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 3 Tb. or so olive oil
- 2 Tb. or so rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar
- 1/8 to 1/4 C. of high quality Parmesan, grated coarsely
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: red pepper flakes or hot pepper vinegar
Make sure that your broccoli is diced finely and then put it in a bowl. If you haven’t already, pit the olives by pressing the flat side of a chef’s knife against them to pop out the pit. Use your fingers to pull out any straggler pits and then chop the olives coarsely. Combine the broccoli and olives. Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar and olive oil. Toss the broccoli and olives with the dressing and then add the cheese. Thoroughly combine the mixture and taste. Add more vinegar or oil as needed. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed–be careful since the olives and Parm are quite salty. Serve, with a dash of red pepper flakes or hot vinegar, if desired.